Free electrons can couple to optical material excitations on nanometer-length and attosecond-time scales, opening-up unique opportunities for both the generation of radiation and the manipulation of the electron wave function. Here, we exploit the Smith-Purcell effect to experimentally study the coherent coupling of free electrons and light in a circular metallo-dielectric metagrating that is fabricated onto the input facet of a multimode optical fiber. Using hyperspectral angle-resolved (HSAR) far-field imaging inside a scanning electron microscope, we probe the angular dispersion of Smith-Purcell radiation (SPR) that is simultaneously generated in free space and inside the fiber by an electron beam that grazes the metagrating at a nanoscale distance. Furthermore, we analyze the spectral distribution of SPR that is emitted into guided optical modes and correlate it with the numerical aperture of the fiber. By varying the electron energy between 5 and 30 keV, we observe the emission of SPR from the ultraviolet to the near-infrared spectral range, and up to the third emission order. In addition, we detect incoherent cathodoluminescence that is generated by electrons penetrating the input facet of the fiber and scattering inelastically. As a result, our HSAR measurements reveal a Fano resonance that is coupled to a Rayleigh anomaly of the metagrating, and that overlaps with the angular dispersion of second-order SPR at 20 keV. Our findings demonstrate the potential of optical fiber-integrated metasurfaces as a versatile platform to implement novel ultrafast light sources and to synthesize complex free-electron quantum states with light.

, , , , ,
European Research Council (ERC) , European Union Horizon 2020 , The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO)
ACS Photonics
Photonic Materials

Liebtrau, M., & Polman, A. (2024). Angular Dispersion of Free-Electron-Light Coupling in an Optical Fiber-Integrated Metagrating. ACS Photonics, 11(3), 1125–1136. doi:10.1021/acsphotonics.3c01574