Modal decomposition of a propagating matter wave via electron ptychography

*Physical Review A* **94**, 063621 (2016)

We employ ptychography, a phase-retrieval imaging technique, to show experimentally for the first time that a partially coherent high-energy matter (electron) wave emanating from an extended source can be decomposed into a set of mutually independent modes of minimal rank. Partial coherence significantly determines the optical transfer properties of an electron microscope and so there has been much work on this subject. However, previous studies have employed forms of interferometry to determine spatial coherence between discrete points in the wavefield. Here we use the density matrix to derive a formal quantum mechanical description of electron ptychography and use it to measure a full description of the spatial coherence of a propagating matter wavefield, at least to the within the fundamental uncertainties of the measurements we can obtain.