Research ArticlePHYSICS

Nonequilibrium electron and lattice dynamics of strongly correlated Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ single crystals

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Science Advances  27 Apr 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 4, eaap7427
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap7427

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The interplay between the electronic and lattice degrees of freedom in nonequilibrium states of strongly correlated systems has been debated for decades. Although progress has been made in establishing a hierarchy of electronic interactions with the use of time-resolved techniques, the role of the phonons often remains in dispute, a situation highlighting the need for tools that directly probe the lattice. We present the first combined megaelectron volt ultrafast electron diffraction and time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy study of optimally doped Bi2Sr2CaCu2O8+δ. Quantitative analysis of the lattice and electron subsystems’ dynamics provides a unified picture of nonequilibrium electron-phonon interactions in the cuprates beyond the N-temperature model. The work provides new insights on the specific phonon branches involved in the nonequilibrium heat dissipation from the high-energy Cu–O bond stretching “hot” phonons to the lowest-energy acoustic phonons with correlated atomic motion along the <110> crystal directions and their characteristic time scales. It reveals a highly nonthermal phonon population during the first several picoseconds after the photoexcitation. The approach, taking advantage of the distinct nature of electrons and photons as probes, is applicable for studying energy relaxation in other strongly correlated electron systems.

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