Splashing transients of 2D plasmons launched by swift electrons

Launching of plasmons by swift electrons has long been used in electron energy–loss spectroscopy (EELS) to investigate the plasmonic properties of ultrathin, or two-dimensional (2D), electron systems. However, the question of how a swift electron generates plasmons in space and time has never been answered. We address this issue by calculating and demonstrating the spatial-temporal dynamics of 2D plasmon generation in graphene. We predict a jet-like rise of excessive charge concentration that delays the generation of 2D plasmons in EELS, exhibiting an analog to the hydrodynamic Rayleigh jet in a splashing phenomenon before the launching of ripples. The photon radiation, analogous to the splashing sound, accompanies the plasmon emission and can be understood as being shaken off by the Rayleigh jet–like charge concentration. Considering this newly revealed process, we argue that previous estimates on the yields of graphene plasmons in EELS need to be reevaluated.

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