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Morimoto, Yuya; Baum, Peter (2018): Attosecond control of electron beams at dielectric and absorbing membranes. In: Physical Review A, Vol. 97, No. 3, 33815
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Ultrashort electron pulses are crucial for time-resolved electron diffraction and microscopy of the fundamental light-matter interaction. In this work, we study experimentally and theoretically the generation and characterization of attosecond electron pulses by optical-field-driven compression and streaking at dielectric or absorbing interaction elements. The achievable acceleration and deflection gradient depends on the laser-electron angle, the laser's electric and magnetic field directions, and the foil orientation. Electric and magnetic fields have similar contributions to the final effect and both need to be considered. Experiments and theory agree well and reveal the optimum conditions for highly efficient, velocity-matched electron-field interactions in the longitudinal or transverse direction. We find that metallic membranes are optimum for light-electron control at mid-infrared or terahertz wavelengths, but dielectric membranes are excellent in the visible and near-infrared regimes and are therefore ideal for the formation of attosecond electron pulses.