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Characterization of an aerosolized nanoparticle beam beyond the diffraction limit through strong field ionization
preprintposted on 2023-01-12, 15:22 authored by Michael Davino, Tobias Saule, Nora G. Helming, J. A. Powell, Carlos Trallero-Herrero
The study of nanomaterials is an active area of research for technological applications as well as fundamental science. A common method for studying properties of isolated nanoparticles is by an in-vacuum particle beam produced via an aerodynamic lens. Despite being common practice, characterization of such beams has proven difficult as light scattering detection techniques fail for particles with sizes beyond the diffraction limit. Here we present a new technique for characterizing such nanoparticle beams using strong field ionization. By focusing an ultrafast, mJ-level laser into the particle beam, a nanoparticle within the laser focus is ionized and easily detected by its ejected electrons. This method gives direct access to the nanoparticle density at the location of the focus and, by scanning the focus through the transverse and longitudinal profiles of the particle beam, the 3-dimensional particle density distribution can be attained. Further, we show that strong field ionization is effective in detecting spherical nanoparticles as small as 10 nm in diameter. Additionally, this technique is an effective tool in optimizing the particle beam for specific applications. As an example we show that the particle beam density and width can be manipulated by restricting the gas flow into the aerodynamic lens.