Active control over macroscopic properties of solids is highly desirable for a broad range of applications. A promising pathway to on-demand material properties are metastable hidden states, which are nonequilibrium phases that can only be reached after a quench by ultrashort optical or electrical pulses. As hidden states often host new emergent properties and can be switched on ultrafast timescales through non-thermal reaction pathways, they offer exciting novel functionalities for solid-state quantum devices. Yet, the fundamental processes that govern the dynamical pathway to hidden phases remain a largely open subject. Thus, switching is mostly based on empirical protocols, resulting in low efficiencies and limited control over stability.
In a new experimental work recently published in Science Advances, the Dynamics of Correlated Materials group studies the dynamical pathway to the metastable hidden quantum state of 1T-TaS2 after optical excitation and reveal the critical role of a structural coherence governing the transition. Using time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (trARPES), we investigate the electronic states during the transition from the insulating ground state of TaS2 to the metallic hidden phase. Employing a multi-pulse optical excitation scheme, we demonstrate a high degree of coherent control over the switching process to the hidden phase, providing strong evidence for the key role of the collective amplitude mode as the driver of the transition.
The full scientific study is now open access published under Link. A comprehensive press release in German and English can be found here at FHI News.This is from index.php
Lead halide perovskite (LHP) semiconductors emerged as an excellent material platform for next-generation solar cells and optoelectronic devices, but the microscopic origin of their surprising optoelectronic properties, such as long charge-carrier lifetimes and long diffusion lengths, continues to be debated. These LHP properties are typically tailored by fine-tuning the lattice structure through modifications in chemical composition or morphology. Phonon-driven ultrafast material control, representing the dynamic counterpart to chemical engineering, has nevertheless been mostly elusive.
In a new experimental work recently published in Science Advances, the THz Structural Dynamics group employs intense single-cycle THz electric fields to investigate the ultrafast lattice responses in hybrid CH3NH3PbBr3 and all-inorganic CsPbBr3 perovskites. By probing the THz-induced Kerr effect, they witness a strong THz polarizability and achieve direct lattice control via nonlinear excitation of coherent octahedral twist modes in these materials. The observed Raman-active phonons between 0.9 and 1.3 THz govern the ultrafast nonlinear lattice response in the low-temperature orthorhombic phase and thus dominate the phonon-modulated polarizability. The results indicate that these phonons might contribute to dynamic charge carrier screening with implications for LHPs’ optoelectronic properties beyond the conventional Fröhlich polaron picture. Moreover, this work paves the way for selective control of LHPs’ vibrational degrees of freedom governing phase transitions and dynamic disorder, and puts ultrafast material design of these semiconductors into reach.
Absorption of light in a molecular system typically leads to formation of a correlated electron-hole pair with zero spin, called singlet exciton. If energetically allowed, this singlet exciton may eventually transform into two triplet excitons (with spin 1 each), thereby doubling the number of excited charge carriers. Singlet fission may therefore boost photovoltaic efficiency. The primary step of singlet fission is the ultrafast creation of a correlated triplet pair. Whereas several mechanisms have been proposed to explain this step, none has emerged as a consensus. The challenge lies in tracking the transient excitonic states. In this work, time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy is employed to observe the primary step of singlet fission in crystalline pentacene. Our results indicate a charge-transfer mediated mechanism with a hybridization of Frenkel and charge transfer states in the lowest bright singlet exciton. Detailed knowledge is obtained about the localization and the orbital character of the exciton wave functions recorded in momentum maps. This allows to directly compare the localization of singlet and bitriplet excitons and decompose energetically overlapping states on the basis of their orbital character. A more general perspective of this work is that orbital- and localization-resolved dynamics promise deep insights into the mechanics governing molecular systems and solids, in particular, topological materials.This is from index.php
The Max Planck Fellow Programme promotes cooperation between outstanding university professors and Max Planck Society researchers. The appointment of university professors as Max Planck Fellows is limited to a five-year period and also entails the supervision of a small working group at a Max Planck institute. Institutes have been able to apply for an extension to the funding period for Max Planck Fellows on a one-off basis since 2009. The option of a one-off extension also exists here.This is from index.php
The functionality of a material and its macroscopic response to external stimuli are dictated by the microscopic interactions of its elementary degrees of freedom – electrons, lattice, and spin. Understanding the fundamental mechanisms and complex many-body interactions that determine relevant material properties is a main goal of modern solid state research. In spatially inhomogeneous crystals, atomic-scale variations of the crystal lattice and/or its electronic structure will alter the microscopic response – may it be due to imperfection in the presence of defects, or by design due to the growth of nanoscale heterostructures. Whereas femtosecond pump-probe techniques provide insight into microscopic couplings by following the non-equilibrium response and dynamics of a system in real-time, very few experimental approaches exist to date which are capable to resolve such dynamics locally on the relevant length scales down to a single atom.
Coherent phonon spectroscopy is a powerful tool to monitor ultrafast lattice dynamics under nonequilibrium conditions. Such collective, in-phase vibrations of a crystal lattice can be excited by ultrafast laser pulses and can be used, for example, to monitor a light-induced phase transition in strongly correlated materials in real time and even to control its outcome. Despite the important role of the local crystal structure for such dynamics, it has not been possible so far to measure coherent lattice vibrations with high, few nanometer, spatial resolution. In this work we demonstrate nanoscale coherent phonon spectroscopy by means of ultrafast laser-induced scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) in a plasmonic junction. Comparison of the CP spectra with tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy allows us to identify the involved phonon modes. In the all-optical pump-probe STM approach, the laser-excited coherent phonons periodically modulate the photoinduced tunneling current generated by the probe pulse, for which it is crucially that the laser excitation is resonant with an optical transition in the electronic structure of the hybridized ZnO/Ag(111) system. Moreover, in contrast to the Raman spectra, the relative CP intensities exhibit strong nanoscale spatial variations, which correlate with changes in the local density of states recorded via scanning tunneling spectroscopy. A new aspect of this work is that the photoinduced tunneling current is not modulated by a periodic change of the tip-sample distance, but likely by coupling of the phonons to the local electronic structure, which in turn leads to a modulation of the resonantly excited photocurrent. Our work introduces a new approach to probe the ultrafast structural response of a photoexcited solid using STM, and opens up new possibilities to study and control of ultrafast dynamics at solid surfaces and in low-dimensional quantum materials.
Original publication: S. Liu, A. Hammud, I. Hamada, M. Wolf, M. Müller, T. Kumagai, Nanoscale coherent phonon spectroscopy, Science Advances.
Science Advances 8, eabq5682 (2022) • DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abq5682This is from index.php
Sebastian Maehrlein, leader of the “THz Structural Dynamics” group, has been awarded an independent Emmy Noether group by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for a funding period of 6 years. His research focus will be centered on actively steering lattice angular momentum in solids for ultrafast control of material properties.
Even though exchange of energy and linear momentum between lattice vibrations (phonons) and other degrees of freedom is a cornerstone of solid-state physics, phonon angular momentum is commonly just assumed to account for angular momentum conservation but its active control remains elusive. In this long-term project Sebastian F. Maehrlein and his team will prepare and coherently control phonon states with angular momentum to study and actively manipulate coupled electronic and spin degrees of freedoms. As a first step, the group will work towards polarization tailoring of highly intense few-cycle pulses in the THz and multi-THz (mid-infrared) spectral range. Once this control is established, the preparation and detection of circularly polarized (degenerate chiral) coherent phonons in benchmark materials will be tackled. The coupling of this coherent phonon angular momentum to ordered spin states in magnetic materials or atomically thin semiconductors bears a number of fundamental scientific questions and application potential. Eventually, the team aims to establish phonon angular momentum as a novel ultrafast tuning knob for comprehensive material control.
When photoexcited by an ultrafast laser pulse, antiferromagnets allow direct angular momentum transfer between opposing spins, promising faster functionality than ferromagnets, which are inherently limited because their net angular momentum must be dissipated into the lattice. The process of angular momentum transfer is closely related to the type of magnetic coupling in the system.
In lanthanides, magnetic 4f exchange is mediated indirectly via the conduction electrons (Ruderman-Kittel-Kasuya-Yosida interaction, RKKY), and the effects of such conditions on antiferromagnetic direct spin transfer are largely unexplored. The Ruderman-Kittel-Kasuya-Yosida interaction (RKKY interaction, after Malvin Avram Ruderman, Charles Kittel, Tadao Kasuya and Kei Yosida) describes the indirect exchange between the localised magnetic moments of the atoms of a metal. If an electron comes close to a magnetic atom, it aligns its spin with it. If the electron now moves further through the solid, the spin polarisation of the electron can in turn cause an alignment of the magnetic moment of one of the nearest atoms.
Here resonant ultrafast X-ray diffraction are utilized to study ultrafast magnetization dynamics in a series of 4f antiferromagnets, and systematically varied the 4f occupation, thereby altering the magnitude of RKKY. Combined with with ab-initio calculations, the researchers find that the rate of angular momentum transfer between opposing moments is directly determined by the magnitude of RKKY. Given the direct relationship between RKKY and the conduction electrons, the results offer a novel approach for controlling the speed of magnetic devices.This is from index.php
After the traditional New Year’s coffee had to be cancelled for two years due to corona, the FHI employees were happy to finally come together again with a sparkling drink, finger food, a delicious bratwurst and wonderful weather at the Haber lime tree.This is from index.php
The lattice symmetry of a crystal is one of the most important factors in determining its physical properties. Particularly, low-symmetry crystals offer powerful opportunities to control light propagation, polarization and phase. Materials featuring extreme optical anisotropy can support a hyperbolic response, enabling coupled light–matter interactions, also known as polaritons, with highly directional propagation and compression of light to deeply sub-wavelength scales. Here we show that monoclinic crystals can support hyperbolic shear polaritons, a new polariton class arising in the mid-infrared to far-infrared due to shear phenomena in the dielectric response. This feature emerges in materials in which the dielectric tensor cannot be diagonalized, that is, in low-symmetry monoclinic and triclinic crystals in which several oscillators with non-orthogonal relative orientations contribute to the optical response. Hyperbolic shear polaritons complement previous observations of hyperbolic phonon polaritons in orthorhombic and hexagonal crystal systems, unveiling new features, such as the continuous evolution of their propagation direction with frequency, tilted wavefronts and asymmetric responses. The interplay between diagonal loss and off-diagonal shear phenomena in the dielectric response of these materials has implications for new forms of non-Hermitian and topological photonic states. We anticipate that our results will motivate new directions for polariton physics in low-symmetry materials, which include geological minerals, many common oxides and organic crystals, greatly expanding the material base and extending design opportunities for compact photonic devices.This is from index.php
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