Coherent control of a surface structural phase transition.
Horstmann, Jan Gerrit ; Böckmann, Hannes ; Wit, Bareld ; Kurtz, Felix ; Storeck, Gero ; Ropers, Claus
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/17767
The desire to exert active optical control over matter is a unifying theme across multiple scientific disciplines, as exemplified by all-optical magnetic switching, light-induced metastable or exotic phases of solids and the coherent control of chemical reactions. Typically, these approaches dynamically steer a system towards states or reaction products far from equilibrium. In solids, metal-insulator transitions are an important target for optical manipulation, offering dramatic and ultrafast changes of the electronic and lattice properties. In this context, essential questions concern the role of coherence in the efficiencies and thresholds of such transitions. Here, we demonstrate coherent control over a metal-insulator structural phase transition in a quasi-one-dimensional solid-state surface system. A femtosecond double-pulse excitation scheme is used to drive the system from the insulating to a metastable metallic state, and the corresponding structural changes are monitored by ultrafast low-energy electron diffraction. We harness vibrational coherence in key structural modes to govern the transition, as evidenced by delay-dependent oscillations in the double-pulse switching efficiency. Mode-selective coherent control of solids and surfaces could open new routes to switching chemical and physical functionalities, facilitated by metastable and non-equilibrium states.
Sponsored by EU