Relativistic electron beams create optical radiation when interacting with tailored nanostructures. This phenomenon has been so far used to design grating-based and holographic electron-driven photon sources. It has been proposed recently that such sources can be used for hybrid electron- and light-based spectroscopy techniques. However, this demands the design of a thin-film source suitable for electron-microscopy applications. Here, we present a mesoscopic structure composed of an array of nanoscale holes in a gold film which is designed using transformation optics and delivers ultrashort chirped electromagnetic wave packets upon 30–200 keV electron irradiation. The femtosecond photon bunches result from coherent scattering of surface plasmon polaritons with hyperbolic dispersion. They decay by radiation in a broad spectral band which is focused into a 1.5 micrometer beam waist. The focusing ability and broadband nature of this photon source will initiate applications in ultrafast spectral interferometry techniques.
There is growing interest in designing platforms for coherent electron-driven photon sources for hybrid light and electron spectroscopy. Here the authors demonstrate generation of coherent broadband ultrashort light pulses upon electron irradiation to nanostructured gold plated film.