Strain Wave Pathway to Semiconductor-to-Metal Transition Revealed by Time-Resolved X-ray Powder Diffraction

C. Mariette, et al.

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Received Date: 15th May 20

C. Mariette, M. Lorenc, H. Cailleau, E. Collet, L. Guérin, A. Volte, E. Trzop, R. Bertoni, X. Dong, B. Lépine, O Hernandez, E. Janod, L. Cario, V. Ta Phuoc, S. Ohkoshi, H. Tokoro, L. Patthey, A. Babic, I. Usov, D. Ozerov, L. Sala, S. Ebner, P. Böhler, A Keller, A. Oggenfuss, T. Zmofing, S. Redford, S. Vetter, R. Follath, P. Juranic, A. Schreiber, P. Beaud, V. Esposito, Y Deng, G. Ingold, M. Chergui, G. F. Mancini, R. Mankowsky, C. Svetina, S. Zerdane, A. Mozzanica, M. Wulff, M. Levantino, H. Lemke, M. Cammarata

Thanks to the remarkable developments of ultrafast science, one of today's challenges is to modify material state by controlling with a light pulse the coherent motions that connect two different phases. Here we show how strain waves, launched by electronic and structural precursor phenomena, determine a macroscopic transformation pathway for the semiconducting-to-metal transition with large volume change in bistable Ti_3O_5 nanocrystals. Femtosecond powder X-ray diffraction allowed us to quantify the structural deformations associated with the photoinduced phase transition on relevant time scales. We monitored the early intra-cell distortions around absorbing metal dimers, but also long range crystalline deformations dynamically governed by acoustic waves launched at the laser-exposed Ti3O5 surface. We rationalize these observations with a simplified elastic model, demonstrating that a macroscopic transformation occurs concomitantly with the propagating acoustic wavefront on the picosecond timescale, several decades earlier than the subsequent thermal processes governed by heat diffusion.

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This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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