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Title: Quantum recoil in free-electron interactions with atomic lattices
Authors: Huang, Sunchao
Duan, Ruihuan
Pramanik, Nikhil
Herrin, Jason Scott
Boothroyd, Chris
Liu, Zheng
Wong, Liang Jie
Keywords: Science::Physics::Atomic physics::Quantum theory
Science::Physics::Optics and light
Issue Date: 2023
Source: Huang, S., Duan, R., Pramanik, N., Herrin, J. S., Boothroyd, C., Liu, Z. & Wong, L. J. (2023). Quantum recoil in free-electron interactions with atomic lattices. Nature Photonics.
Project: NRF2020-NRF-ISF004-3525 
Journal: Nature Photonics 
Abstract: The emission of light from charged particles underlies a wealth of scientific phenomena and technological applications. Classical theory determines the emitted photon energy by assuming an undeflected charged particle trajectory. In 1940, Ginzburg pointed out that this assumption breaks down in quantum electrodynamics, resulting in shifts—known as quantum recoil— in outgoing photon energies from their classically predicted values. Since then, quantum recoil in free-electron light-emission processes, including Cherenkov radiation and Smith–Purcell radiation, has been well-studied in theory, but an experimental demonstration has remained elusive. Here we present an experimental demonstration of quantum recoil, showing that this quantum electrodynamical effect is not only observable at room temperature but also robust in the presence of other electron-scattering mechanisms. By scattering free electrons off the periodic two-dimensional atomic sheets of van der Waals materials in a tabletop platform, we show that the X-ray photon energy is accurately predicted only by quantum recoil theory. We show that quantum recoil can be enormous, to the point that a classically predicted X-ray photon is emitted as an extremely low-energy photon. We envisage quantum recoil as a means of precision control over outgoing photon and electron spectra, and show that quantum recoil can be tailored through a host of parameters: the electron energy, the atomic composition and the tilt angle of the van der Waals material. Our results pave the way to tabletop, room-temperature platforms for harnessing and investigating qua- ntum electrodynamical effects in electron–photon interactions.
ISSN: 1749-4885
DOI: 10.1038/s41566-022-01132-6
DOI (Related Dataset): 10.21979/N9/ZGDIXL
Schools: School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering 
School of Materials Science and Engineering 
Research Centres: Earth Observatory of Singapore 
CNRS International NTU THALES Research Alliances 
Facility for Analysis, Characterisation, Testing and Simulation (FACTS)
Rights: © 2023 The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited. All rights reserved. This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:EEE Journal Articles
EOS Journal Articles
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