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Boosting the efficiency of Smith-Purcell radiators using nanophotonic inverse design
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 14:02 authored by Urs Haeusler, Michael Seidling, Peyman Yousefi, Peter Hommelhoff
The generation of radiation from free electrons passing a grating, known as Smith-Purcell radiation, finds various applications including non-destructive beam diagnostics and tunable light sources, ranging from terahertz towards X-rays. So far, the gratings used for this purpose have been designed manually, based on human intuition and simple geometric shapes. Here we apply the computer-based technique of nanophotonic inverse design to build a 1400nm Smith-Purcell radiator for sub-relativistic 30 keV electrons. We demonstrate that the resulting silicon nanostructure radiates with a 3-times-higher efficiency and 2.2-times-higher overall power than previously used rectangular gratings. With better fabrication accuracy and for the same electron-structure distance, simulations suggest a superiority by a factor of 96 in peak efficiency. While increasing the efficiency is a key step needed for practical applications of free-electron radiators, inverse design also allows to shape the spectral and spatial emission in ways inaccessible with the human mind.