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Mohler, K. J.; Ehberger, D.; Gronwald, I; Lange, C.; Huber, R.; Baum, P. (2020): Ultrafast electron diffraction from nanophotonic waveforms via dynamical Aharonov-Bohm phases. In: Science Advances, Vol. 6, No. 47, eabc8804
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Electron interferometry via phase-contrast microscopy, holography, or picodiffraction can provide a direct visualization of the static electric and magnetic fields inside or around a material at subatomic precision, but understanding the electromagnetic origin of light-matter interaction requires time resolution as well. Here, we demonstrate that pump-probe electron diffraction with all-optically compressed electron pulses can capture dynamic electromagnetic potentials in a nanophotonic material with sub-light-cycle time resolution via centrosymmetry-violating Bragg spot dynamics. The origin of this effect is a sizable quantum mechanical phase shift that the electron de Broglie wave obtains from the oscillating electromagnetic potentials within less than 1 fs. Coherent electron imaging and scattering can therefore reveal the electromagnetic foundations of light-matter interaction on the level of the cycles of light.