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Quantum Nature of Dielectric Laser Accelerators
Physical Review X  (IF15.762),  Pub Date : 2021-12-01, DOI: 10.1103/physrevx.11.041042
Yuval Adiv, Kangpeng Wang, Raphael Dahan, Payton Broaddus, Yu Miao, Dylan Black, Kenneth Leedle, Robert L. Byer, Olav Solgaard, R. Joel England, Ido Kaminer

Dielectric laser accelerators (DLAs) hold great promise for producing economic and compact on-chip radiation sources. On-chip DLAs benefit from fabrication capabilities of the silicon industry and from breakthroughs in silicon-photonic nanostructures to enhance the interaction between particles and laser fields. Seemingly unrelated recent advances in the quantum interactions of electrons and light have raised interest in the underlying classical-quantum correspondence principle at the foundations of electron acceleration. Here, we present the observation of the underlying quantum nature of DLAs: observing quantized peaks in the electron-energy spectra. Our findings demonstrate quasi-phase-matching between an electron wave function and a light wave, which also demonstrates the role of the quantum wave function in the inverse Smith-Purcell effect. We harness the capabilities of an ultrafast transmission electron microscope (UTEM) to maintain a long electron-light interaction length extending over hundreds of periods of the laser pulse, mediated by a silicon-photonic nanograting DLA. The UTEM is shown as a new platform for characterization of future DLA concepts. The results raise fundamental questions regarding the role of quantum mechanics in DLA design, and more generally about the prospects of manipulating particles’ quantum wave functions in accelerator physics.