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Phys Rev Lett ; 127(22): 227401, 2021 Nov 24.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-34889631


Engineering novel states of matter with light is at the forefront of materials research. An intensely studied direction is to realize broken-symmetry phases that are "hidden" under equilibrium conditions but can be unleashed by an ultrashort laser pulse. Despite a plethora of experimental discoveries, the nature of these orders and how they transiently appear remain unclear. To this end, we investigate a nonequilibrium charge density wave (CDW) in rare-earth tritellurides, which is suppressed in equilibrium but emerges after photoexcitation. Using a pump-pump-probe protocol implemented in ultrafast electron diffraction, we demonstrate that the light-induced CDW consists solely of order parameter fluctuations, which bear striking similarities to critical fluctuations in equilibrium despite differences in the length scale. By calculating the dynamics of CDW fluctuations in a nonperturbative model, we further show that the strength of the light-induced order is governed by the amplitude of equilibrium fluctuations. These findings highlight photoinduced fluctuations as an important ingredient for the emergence of transient orders out of equilibrium. Our results further suggest that materials with strong fluctuations in equilibrium are promising platforms to host hidden orders after laser excitation.

Nat Commun ; 12(1): 1860, 2021 Mar 25.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-33767138


Nonradiative processes limit optoelectronic functionality of nanocrystals and curb their device performance. Nevertheless, the dynamic structural origins of nonradiative relaxations in such materials are not understood. Here, femtosecond electron diffraction measurements corroborated by atomistic simulations uncover transient lattice deformations accompanying radiationless electronic processes in colloidal semiconductor nanocrystals. Investigation of the excitation energy dependence in a core/shell system shows that hot carriers created by a photon energy considerably larger than the bandgap induce structural distortions at nanocrystal surfaces on few picosecond timescales associated with the localization of trapped holes. On the other hand, carriers created by a photon energy close to the bandgap of the core in the same system result in transient lattice heating that occurs on a much longer 200 picosecond timescale, dominated by an Auger heating mechanism. Elucidation of the structural deformations associated with the surface trapping of hot holes provides atomic-scale insights into the mechanisms deteriorating optoelectronic performance and a pathway towards minimizing these losses in nanocrystal devices.

ACS Nano ; 14(4): 4792-4804, 2020 Apr 28.
Artigo em Inglês | MEDLINE | ID: mdl-32208676


Metal nanocrystals exhibit important optoelectronic and photocatalytic functionalities in response to light. These dynamic energy conversion processes have been commonly studied by transient optical probes to date, but an understanding of the atomistic response following photoexcitation has remained elusive. Here, we use femtosecond resolution electron diffraction to investigate transient lattice responses in optically excited colloidal gold nanocrystals, revealing the effects of nanocrystal size and surface ligands on the electron-phonon coupling and thermal relaxation dynamics. First, we uncover a strong size effect on the electron-phonon coupling, which arises from reduced dielectric screening at the nanocrystal surfaces and prevails independent of the optical excitation mechanism (i.e., inter- and intraband). Second, we find that surface ligands act as a tuning parameter for hot carrier cooling. Particularly, gold nanocrystals with thiol-based ligands show significantly slower carrier cooling as compared to amine-based ligands under intraband optical excitation due to electronic coupling at the nanocrystal/ligand interfaces. Finally, we spatiotemporally resolve thermal transport and heat dissipation in photoexcited nanocrystal films by combining electron diffraction with stroboscopic elastic scattering microscopy. Taken together, we resolve the distinct thermal relaxation time scales ranging from 1 ps to 100 ns associated with the multiple interfaces through which heat flows at the nanoscale. Our findings provide insights into optimization of gold nanocrystals and their thin films for photocatalysis and thermoelectric applications.