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Probing the electromagnetic response of dielectric antennas by vortex electron beams

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posted on 2023-01-12, 14:29 authored by Andrea Konecna, Mikolaj K. Schmidt, Rainer Hillenbrand, Javier Aizpurua
Focused beams of electrons, which act as both sources, and sensors of electric fields, can be used to characterise the electric response of complex photonic systems, by locally probing the induced optical near fields. This functionality can be complemented by embracing the recently developed vortex electron beams (VEBs), made up of electrons with orbital angular momentum, which could in addition probe induced magnetic near fields. In this work we revisit the theoretical description of this technique, dubbed vortex Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy (v-EELS). We map the fundamental, quantum-mechanical picture of the scattering of the VEB electrons, to the intuitive classical models which treat the electron beams as superposition of linear electric and magnetic currents. We then apply this formalism to characterise the optical response of dielectric nanoantennas with v-EELS. Our calculations reveal that VEB electrons probe electric or magnetic modes with different efficiency, which can be adjusted by changing either beam vorticity or acceleration voltage, to determine the nature of the probed excitations. We also study a chirally-arranged nanostructure, which in the interaction with electron vortices produces dichroism in electron energy loss spectra. Our theoretical work establishes VEBs as versatile probes that could provide information on optical excitations otherwise inaccessible with conventional electron beams.



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