Electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS) uses an electron beam shot through a sample to knock a resident atom’s electron into an unoccupied outer shell or out of the atom entirely. In the process, the probing electrons lose energy. When the target is a tightly bound core electron, the beam’s energy losses can easily exceed 100 eV; by analyzing the resultant “core-loss” spectra, researchers can glean information about a sample’s chemical and structural properties much as they could using soft x rays. Unlike x rays, however, electrons interact strongly with the light elements that are prevalent in organic materials. A group at Caltech led by Ahmed Zewail has now incorporated nano- and femtosecond time resolution into EELS to study the chemical and structural dynamics of a 50-nm-thick film of graphite. The researchers first use a laser to excite electronic and lattice motions in a small spot of the sample; after the desired...
Stephen G. Benka; Ultrafast 4D core-loss spectroscopy meets graphite. Physics Today 1 May 2015; 68 (5): 18. https://doi.org/10.1063/PT.3.2767
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