Ultrafast Spin, Phonon and Charge Dynamics: from Femtoseconds to Nanoseconds at Nanoscale
The ultrashort-pulse photoexcitation and measurement techniques are of tremendous interest due to their capability to uncover the ultrafast transient response of materials. Among light-based pump-probe techniques, an original approach employing low-power fs-fiber-lasers was developed to acquire, manipulate and modify a wideband spectrum of photoexcitations in thin films and nanostructures.
In epitaxial ferromagnetic films, coherent spin waves are generated with femtosecond laser pulses via thermal excitation mediated by magnon-electron and magneto-elastic coupling. The propagation speeds and attenuation lengths of exchange spin wave modes are determined during the propagation and reflection at the film boundaries, consistent with their dispersion relation. Moreover, photo-thermal excitation could be used to achieve coherent control of the magnetization vector. An optically-induced spin reorientation transition of first-order is revealed and provides a new route to coherent magnetization switching.
Another experimental effort has been focused on phonon dynamics and thermoelectric transport studies. The coherent optical phonon spectroscopy was employed during the fs laser-induced nanostructuring in binary semiconductors such as Sb2Te3 and InSb. Nanostructure fabrication process optimization resulted in highly ordered periodic nanostructures without the adverse effects of residual phase separation. In another case, pump-probe measurements are used to understand the behavior of acoustically mismatched thin films to further assist the design of high-Q acoustic resonators at GHz frequencies.
Lastly, ultrafast pump-probe studies of third-generation materials for future photovoltaics will be presented. One such novel photovoltaic material uses heavy O doping of ZnTe to generate the formation of an intermediate band within the forbidden gap, in order to improve the matching of semiconductor absorption and solar spectra.
This approach is believed to become useful for realization of single junction solar cells with very high efficiencies. However, the implementation of such devices requires advanced characterization techniques. Multiphoton optical pulse excitations are demonstrated to induce multiband charge transfer dynamics in ZnTe:O films as revealed when monitoring the time-resolved photoluminescence signals.