Exploration of metastability and hidden phases in correlated electron crystals visualized by femtosecond optical doping and electron crystallography

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Science Advances  26 Jun 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 5, e1400173
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400173

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Characterizing and understanding the emergence of multiple macroscopically ordered electronic phases through subtle tuning of temperature, pressure, and chemical doping has been a long-standing central issue for complex materials research. We report the first comprehensive studies of optical doping–induced emergence of stable phases and metastable hidden phases visualized in situ by femtosecond electron crystallography. The electronic phase transitions are triggered by femtosecond infrared pulses, and a temperature–optical density phase diagram is constructed and substantiated with the dynamics of metastable states, highlighting the cooperation and competition through which the macroscopic quantum orders emerge. These results elucidate key pathways of femtosecond electronic switching phenomena and provide an important new avenue to comprehensively investigate optical doping–induced transition states and phase diagrams of complex materials with wide-ranging applications.

  • femtosecond electron crystallography
  • strongly correlated electron systems
  • Phase Transition
  • charge-density waves
  • optical doping
  • transition-metal dichalcogenide

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