ABSTRACT: The growing field of ultrafast materials science, aimed at exploring short-lived transient processes in materials on the microsecond to femtosecond timescales, has spawned the development of time-resolved, in situ techniques in electron microscopy capable of capturing these events. This article gives a brief overview of two principal approaches that have emerged in the past decade: the stroboscopic ultrafast electron microscope and the nanosecond-time-resolved single-shot instrument. The high time resolution is garnered through the use of advanced pulsed laser systems and a pump-probe experimental platforms using laser-driven photoemission processes to generate time-correlated electron probe pulses synchronized with laser-driven events in the specimen. Each technique has its advantages and limitations and thus is complementary in terms of the materials systems and processes that they can investigate. The stroboscopic approach can achieve atomic resolution and sub-picosecond time resolution for capturing transient events, though it is limited to highly repeatable (>10(6) cycles) materials processes, e.g., optically driven electronic phase transitions that must reset to the material's ground state within the repetition rate of the femtosecond laser. The single-shot approach can explore irreversible events in materials, but the spatial resolution is limited by electron source brightness and electron-electron interactions at nanosecond temporal resolutions and higher. The first part of the article will explain basic operating principles of the stroboscopic approach and briefly review recent applications of this technique. As the authors have pursued the development of the single-shot approach, the latter part of the review discusses its instrumentation design in detail and presents examples of materials science studies and the near-term instrumentation developments of this technique.
Micron 04/2012; 43(11):1108-20. · 1.53 Impact Factor