Photons have fixed spin and unbounded orbital angular momentum (OAM). While the former is manifested in the polarization of light, the latter corresponds to the spatial phase distribution of its wavefront1. The distinctive way in which the photon spin dictates the electron motion upon light–matter interaction is the basis for numerous well-established spectroscopies. By contrast, imprinting OAM on a matter wave, specifically on a propagating electron, is generally considered very challenging and the anticipated effect undetectable2. In refs. 3,4, the authors provided evidence of OAM-dependent absorption of light by a bound electron. Here, we seek to observe an OAM-dependent dichroic photoelectric effect, using a sample of He atoms. Surprisingly, we find that the OAM of an optical field can be imprinted coherently onto a propagating electron wave. Our results reveal new aspects of light–matter interaction and point to a new kind of single-photon electron spectroscopy.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution
Access Nature and 54 other Nature Portfolio journals
Get Nature+, our best-value online-access subscription
$29.99 / 30 days
cancel any time
Subscribe to this journal
Receive 12 print issues and online access
$209.00 per year
only $17.42 per issue
Rent or buy this article
Prices vary by article type
Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout
Similar content being viewed by others
The plotted data and other information related to this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
The numerical code supporting the experimental results reported in this paper is available upon reasonable request.
Allen, L., Beijersbergen, M. W., Spreeuw, R. J. C. & Woerdman, J. P. Orbital angular momentum of light and the transformation of Laguerre–Gaussian laser modes. Phys. Rev. A 45, 8185–8189 (1992).
Kaneyasu, T. et al. Limitations in photoionization of helium by an extreme ultraviolet optical vortex. Phys. Rev. A 95, 023413 (2017).
Schmiegelow, C. T. et al. Transfer of optical orbital angular momentum to a bound electron. Nat. Commun. 7, 12998 (2016).
Afanasev, A. et al. Experimental verification of position-dependent angular-momentum selection rules for absorption of twisted light by a bound electron. New J. Phys. 20, 023032 (2018).
Allaria, E. et al. Highly coherent and stable pulses from the FERMI seeded free-electron laser in the extreme ultraviolet. Nat. Photon. 6, 699–704 (2012).
Köksal, K. & Berakdar, J. Charge–current generation in atomic systems induced by optical vortices. Phys. Rev. A 86, 063812 (2012).
Picón, A. et al. Photoionization with orbital angular momentum beams. Opt. Express 18, 3660–3671 (2010).
Wätzel, J., Pavlyukh, Y., A Schäffer, A. F. & Berakdar, J. Optical vortex driven charge current loop and optomagnetism in fullerenes. Carbon 99, 439–443 (2016).
Lyamayev, V. A. et al. Modular end-station for atomic, molecular and cluster science at the low density matter beamline of FERMI@Elettra. J. Phys. B 46, 164007 (2013).
Glover, T. E., Schoenlein, R. W., Chin, A. H. & Shank, C. V. Observation of laser assisted photoelectric effect and femtosecond high order harmonic radiation. Phys. Rev. Lett. 76, 2468–2471 (1996).
Meyer, M., Costello, J. T., Düsterer, S., Li, W. B. & Radcliffe, P. Two-colour experiments in the gas phase. J. Phys. B 43, 194006 (2010).
O’Keeffe, P. et al. Polarization effects in two-photon nonresonant ionization of argon with extreme-ultraviolet and infrared femtosecond pulses. Phys. Rev. A 69, 051401 (2004).
Meyer, M. et al. Polarization control in two-color above-threshold ionization of atomic helium. Phys. Rev. Lett. 101, 193002 (2008).
Guyétand, O. et al. Evolution of angular distributions in two-colour, few-photon ionization of helium. J. Phys. B 41, 051002 (2008).
Haber, L. H., Doughty, B. & Leone, S. R. Photoelectron angular distributions and cross section ratios of two-color two-photon above threshold ionization of argon. J. Phys. Chem. A 113, 13152–13158 (2009).
Haber, L. H., Doughty, B. & Leone, S. R. Energy-dependent photoelectron angular distributions of two-color two-photon above threshold ionization of atomic helium. Phys. Rev. A 84, 013416 (2011).
O’Keeffe, P. et al. Near-threshold photoelectron angular distributions from two-photon resonant photoionization of He. New J. Phys 15, 013023 (2013).
Grum-Grzhimailo, A. N. & Gryzlova, E. V. Nondipole effects in the angular distribution of photoelectrons in two-photon two-color above-threshold atomic ionization. Phys. Rev. A 89, 043424 (2014).
Taïeb, R., Véniard, V., Maquet, A., Manakov, N. L. & Marmo, S. I. Circular dichroism from unpolarized atoms in multiphoton multicolor ionization. Phys. Rev. A 62, 013402 (2000).
Kazansky, A. K., Grigorieva, A. V. & Kabachnik, N. M. Circular dichroism in laser-assisted short-pulse photoionization. Phys. Rev. Lett. 107, 253002 (2011).
Mazza, T. et al. Determining the polarization state of an extreme ultraviolet free-electron laser beam using atomic circular dichroism. Nat. Commun. 5, 3648 (2014).
Quinteiro, G. F., Schmidt-Kaler, F. & Schmiegelow, C. T. Twisted-light–ion interaction: the role of longitudinal fields. Phys. Rev. Lett. 119, 253203 (2017).
Vrakking, M. J. J. An iterative procedure for the inversion of two-dimensional ion/photoelectron imaging experiments. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 72, 4084 (2001).
Zangrando, M. et al. PADReS: The photon analysis delivery and reduction system at the FERMI@Elettra FEL user facility. Rev. Sci. Instrum. 80, 113110 (2009).
Raimondi, L. et al. Kirkpatrick–Baez active optics system at FERMI: system performance analysis. J. Synchrotron Rad. 26, 1462–1472 (2019).
Svetina, C. et al. The Low Density Matter (LDM) beamline at FERMI: optical layout and first commissioning. J. Synchrotron Rad. 22, 538–543 (2015).
Sarsa, A., Gálvez, F. & Buendia, E. Parameterized optimized effective potential for the ground state of the atoms He through Xe. At. Data Nucl. Data Tables 88, 163–202 (2004).
We acknowledge the support of the project ‘Triggering forbidden phenomena with twisted light and particle beams’ (no. J1–8134), funded by the Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS), and of EU-H2020 project NFFA (grant no. 654360). The theoretical study has been financed by the German Science Foundation (DFG), within the priority programme 1840, ‘Quantum dynamics in tailored intense fields’ (SFB-TRR227 and WA 4352/2-1).
The authors declare no competing interests.
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
De Ninno, G., Wätzel, J., Ribič, P.R. et al. Photoelectric effect with a twist. Nat. Photonics 14, 554–558 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-020-0669-y
This article is cited by
Nature Photonics (2022)
Spatio-temporal superconducting dynamics driven by THz fields from topological spintronic terahertz emitters
Scientific Reports (2022)
Light: Science & Applications (2022)
Nature Photonics (2020)