RF-Enabled High-Brightness Ultrafast Electron Microscope




Spatial and temporal resolution in electron microscopy depend on the electron source. To achieve nanometer resolution on a femtosecond time scale, electrons from the source must be produced within a femtosecond and closely bundled spatially. These requirements lead to space-charge limitations, i.e. the repulsion of like charges confined into a small space. In order to advance nanometer spatial and femtosecond temporal resolution for electron microscopy, the space-charge issue must be resolved. 


Description of Technology


The RF-enabled high-brightness ultrafast electron microscope overcomes space charge shortcomings by incorporating an electron pulse compressor in the electron microscope beam column. This technology pushes the space-time resolution beyond the current state-of-the-art for ultrafast electron diffraction and microscopy systems. It clears the way for material imaging at an order femtosecond time scale to address complex process dynamics problems arising in nanoscience and nanotechnology.  The electron source is capable of generating ultra-short (order femtosecond), high-intensity electron pulses for imaging. The source generation allows precise timing between the stimuli of sample processes and ultrafast high-brightness imaging.


Key Benefits

  • High flexibility in terms of imaging. The probe size can be easily tuned and the device can be switched from diffraction mode to microscopy mode without difficulty.
  • Unmatched time resolution between stimuli and high-brightness imaging.
  • Possible incorporation into existing electron microscopes, even at the table-top scale.



  • The increased signal i.e. brightness allows for imaging with femtosecond spatial and nanometer resolution.
  • Real-time molecular events, such as chemical bonding and conformational changes, can be observed.


Patent Status


US Patent 9,024,256




Chong-Yu Ruan, Martin Berz, Zhensheng Tao


Tech ID




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Raymond Devito
Technology Manager
Michigan State University