Probing Chirality with Inelastic Electron-Light Scattering

Tyler R. Harvey*, Jan Wilke Henke, Ofer Kfir, Hugo Lourenço-Martins, Armin Feist, F. Javier García De Abajo, Claus Ropers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Circular dichroism spectroscopy is an essential technique for understanding molecular structure and magnetic materials; however, spatial resolution is limited by the wavelength of light, and sensitivity sufficient for single-molecule spectroscopy is challenging. We demonstrate that electrons can efficiently measure the interaction between circularly polarized light and chiral materials with deeply subwavelength resolution. By scanning a nanometer-sized focused electron beam across an optically excited chiral nanostructure and measuring the electron energy spectrum at each probe position, we produce a high-spatial-resolution map of near-field dichroism. This technique offers a nanoscale view of a fundamental symmetry and could be employed as "photon staining"to increase biomolecular material contrast in electron microscopy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4377-4383
Number of pages7
JournalNano Letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - 10 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Marie Skłodowska-Curie
Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme789104, 752533
European Research Council
Deutsche ForschungsgemeinschaftSPP 1840 QUTIF
Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Ministerio de Economía y CompetitividadMAT2017-88492-R, SEV2015-0522


    • PINEM
    • chirality
    • circular dichroism
    • electron spectroscopy
    • electron-light interaction
    • nanophotonics


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