Generation of Light from Free Electrons

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Science  21 Oct 1966:
Vol. 154, Issue 3747, pp. 386-388
DOI: 10.1126/science.154.3747.386


Experiments with the interaction of a rectangular cross- section beam of electrons which is brought into contact with a metallic diffraction grat e ng produce light variable in wavelength throughout the visible spectrum. Con tinuous variation of the beam thickness shows that light is produced by electrons hundreds of wavelengths from the grating, if the side of the beam near the grating is in contact with it. The results can be accounted for by periodic accelerations of the electrons passing over the surface of the grating. These accelerations are caused by electrostatic forces which in turn are due to the average spacecharge of sheets of elec trons reflected from the grating surface, so that in their space- charge structure the periodicity of the grating rulings is preserved.