Carbon Nanotubes as an Ultrafast Emitter with a Narrow Energy Spread at Optical Frequency

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


  • Chi Li
  • Joseph Xu Zhou
  • Feng Zhai
  • Zhenjun Li
  • Fengrui Yao
  • Ruixi Qiao
  • Ke Chen
  • Matthew Thomas Cole
  • Dapeng Yu
  • Zhipei Sun

  • Kaihui Liu
  • Qing Dai

Research units

  • National Center for Nanoscience and Technology Beijing
  • Peking University
  • Zhejiang Normal University


Ultrafast electron pulses, combined with laser-pump and electron-probe technologies, allow ultrafast dynamics to be characterized in materials. However, the pursuit of simultaneous ultimate spatial and temporal resolution of microscopy and spectroscopy is largely subdued by the low monochromaticity of the electron pulses and their poor phase synchronization to the optical excitation pulses. Field-driven photoemission from metal tips provides high light-phase synchronization, but suffers large electron energy spreads (3-100 eV) as driven by a long wavelength laser (>800 nm). Here, ultrafast electron emission from carbon nanotubes (≈1 nm radius) excited by a 410 nm femtosecond laser is realized in the field-driven regime. In addition, the emitted electrons have great monochromaticity with energy spread as low as 0.25 eV. This great performance benefits from the extraordinarily high field enhancement and great stability of carbon nanotubes, superior to metal tips. The new nanotube-based ultrafast electron source opens exciting prospects for extending current characterization to sub-femtosecond temporal resolution as well as sub-nanometer spatial resolution.


Original languageEnglish
Article number1701580
Number of pages6
JournalAdvanced Materials
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 11 Aug 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

    Research areas

  • Carbon nanotubes, Electron sources, Field-driven, Monochromatic, Ultrafast photoemission

ID: 14470692