Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids by Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics

25 Aug 2017  ·  von Hoegen Alexander, Mankowsky Roman, Fechner Michael, Först Michael, Cavalleri Andrea ·

Femtosecond optical pulses at mid-infrared frequencies have opened up the nonlinear control of lattice vibrations in solids. So far, all applications have relied on second order phonon nonlinearities, which are dominant at field strengths near 1 MVcm-1... In this regime, nonlinear phononics can transiently change the average lattice structure, and with it the functionality of a material. Here, we achieve an order-of-magnitude increase in field strength, and explore higher-order lattice nonlinearities. We drive up to five phonon harmonics of the A1 mode in LiNbO3. Phase-sensitive measurements of atomic trajectories in this regime are used to experimentally reconstruct the interatomic potential and to benchmark ab-initio calculations for this material. Tomography of the Free Energy surface by high-order nonlinear phononics will impact many aspects of materials research, including the study of classical and quantum phase transitions. read more

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Materials Science Optics