PerspectiveUltrafast Optics

Angular momentum can slow down photoemission

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Science  22 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6357, pp. 1239-1240
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3421

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Photoemission spectroscopy, where the absorption of an energetic photon by a material results in the emission of an electron, is an invaluable source of information about electronic structure. Electrons gain their kinetic energies by interacting with both light and their surroundings. In a solid, for example, this makes it possible to measure band energies, energies and lifetimes of quasiparticles, spectral density of states, surface states, and both elastic and inelastic scattering processes. Since the photoelectric effect was explained by Max Planck and Albert Einstein, the fundamental processes behind photoemission have been thoroughly studied in both experiment and theory, but do we fully understand the dynamics of electron emission? On page 1274 of this issue, Siek et al. (1) show that the angular momentum of the electron affects which electrons are emitted first from an atom in a solid.