Almost 30 years ago, Durnin discovered that an optical beam with a transverse intensity profile in the form of a Bessel function of the first order is immune to the effects of diffraction. Unlike most laser beams, which spread upon propagation, the transverse distribution of these Bessel beams remains constant. Electrons also obey a wave equation (the Schrodinger equation), and therefore Bessel beams also exist for electron waves. We generate an electron Bessel beam by diffracting electrons from a nanoscale phase hologram. The hologram imposes a conical phase structure on the electron wave-packet spectrum, thus transforming it into a conical superposition of infinite plane waves, that is, a Bessel beam. We verify experimentally that these beams can propagate for 0.6 m without measurable spreading and can also reconstruct their intensity distributions after being partially obstructed by an obstacle. Finally, we show by numerical calculations that the performance of an electron microscope can be increased dramatically through use of these beams.
- ORBITAL ANGULAR-MOMENTUM
- VORTEX BEAMS