Coherent order parameter oscillations in the ground state of the excitonic insulator Ta2NiSe5

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Science Advances  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaap8652
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap8652

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The excitonic insulator is an intriguing electronic phase of condensed excitons. A prominent candidate is the small bandgap semiconductor Ta2NiSe5, in which excitons are believed to undergo a Bose-Einstein condensation–like transition. However, direct experimental evidence for the existence of a coherent condensate in this material is still missing. A direct fingerprint of such a state would be the observation of its collective modes, which are equivalent to the Higgs and Goldstone modes in superconductors. We report evidence for the existence of a coherent amplitude response in the excitonic insulator phase of Ta2NiSe5. Using nonlinear excitations with short laser pulses, we identify a phonon-coupled state of the condensate that can be understood as a novel amplitude mode. The condensate density contribution substantiates the picture of an electronically driven phase transition and characterizes the transient order parameter of the excitonic insulator as a function of temperature and excitation density.

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