In quantum mechanics, a wavefunction contains two factors: the amplitude and the phase. Only when the probing beam is fully phase coherent, can complete information be retrieved from a particle beam based experiment. Here we use the electron beam field emitted from a noble-metal covered W(111) single-atom tip to image single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) in an electron point projection microscope (PPM). The interference fringes of an SWNT bundle exhibit a very high contrast and the fringe pattern extends throughout the entire beam width. This indicates good phase correlation at all points transverse to the propagation direction. Application of these sources can significantly improve the performance and expand the capabilities of current electron beam based techniques. New instrumentation based on the full spatial coherence may allow determination of the three-dimensional atomic structures of nonperiodic nanostructures and make many advanced experiments possible.
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