Synchrotron soft X-ray and field-emission electron sources: A comparison

John Spence, M. R. Howells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


The soft X-ray spectral region and the useful range of electron energy-loss spectroscopy are very similar, both including the energy range 100-1000eV. Moreover, well-developed monochromators and parallel detection devices with comparable resolution exist for both. Despite the differing interactions of electrons and photons, many complementary experiments in imaging, spectroscopy and diffraction have been performed using both techniques. We therefore compare the brightness, degeneracy, monochromaticity, beam size, source size, spatial and temporal coherence of field-emission electron beams and soft X-ray synchrotron radiation from typical undulators. Recent brightness values for nanotip field emitters and undulators, both measured and calculated, are provided with examples from the Advanced Light Source synchrotron-radiation facility at Berkeley USA. The quantum mechanical upper limit on source brightness, as well as relationships among beam brightness, coherence parameters, and degeneracy, are discussed. Factors which limit these parameters and methods of measurement are reviewed, and the implications for diffraction, imaging and spectroscopic experiments as well as radiation damage are briefly commented on.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)213-222
Number of pages10
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 2002


  • Field-emission electron guns
  • Synchrotron soft X-ray

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation


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