This paper presents a fully ab initio many-body photoemission framework that includes coherent three-body electron-photon-phonon scattering to predict the transverse momentum distributions and the mean transverse energies (MTEs) of bulk photoelectrons from single-crystal photocathodes. The need to develop such a theory stems from the lack of studies that provide complete understanding of the underlying fundamental processes governing the transverse momentum distribution of photoelectrons emitted from single crystals. For example, initial predictions based on density-functional theory calculations of effective electron masses suggested that the (111) surface of PbTe would produce very small MTEs , whereas our experiments yielded MTEs 10 to 20 times larger than these predictions and also exhibited a lower photoemission threshold than predicted. The ab initio framework presented in this paper correctly reproduces both the magnitude of the MTEs from our measurements in PbTe(111) and the observed photoemission below the predicted threshold. Our results show that both photoexcitations into states that propagate in the bulk of the material and coherent many-body electron-photon-phonon scattering processes, which initial predictions ignored, play surprisingly important roles in photoemission from PbTe(111). Finally, from the lessons learned, we recommend a procedure for rapid computational screening of potential single-crystal photocathodes for applications in next-generation ultrafast electron diffraction and x-ray free-electron lasers, which will enable significant advances in condensed matter research.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics