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Published February 28, 2016 | Published
Journal Article Open

Perspective: 4D ultrafast electron microscopy—Evolutions and revolutions


In this Perspective, the evolutionary and revolutionary developments of ultrafast electron imaging are overviewed with focus on the "single-electron concept" for probing methodology. From the first electron microscope of Knoll and Ruska [Z. Phys. 78, 318 (1932)], constructed in the 1930s, to aberration-corrected instruments and on, to four-dimensional ultrafast electron microscopy (4D UEM), the developments over eight decades have transformed humans' scope of visualization. The changes in the length and time scales involved are unimaginable, beginning with the micrometer and second domains, and now reaching the space and time dimensions of atoms in matter. With these advances, it has become possible to follow the elementary structural dynamics as it unfolds in real time and to provide the means for visualizing materials behavior and biological functions. The aim is to understand emergent phenomena in complex systems, and 4D UEM is now central for the visualization of elementary processes involved, as illustrated here with examples from past achievements and future outlook.

Additional Information

© 2016 AIP Publishing LLC. Received 9 December 2015; accepted 13 January 2016; published online 23 February 2016. The research summarized in this contribution had been carried out with support from the National Science Foundation (No. DMR-0964886) and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (No. FA9550-11-1-0055) in the Physical Biology Center for Ultrafast Science and Technology (UST), which is supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation at Caltech. The contributions made by colleagues in this laboratory are highlighted in the references given, and without them this Perspective would not have been possible.

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