Haldar, Anubhab; Huang, Zhengjie; Ma, Xuedan; Darancet, Pierre; Sharifzadeh, Sahar
We study the optical generation and control of coherent phonons in elemental bismuth (Bi) and antimony (Sb) using a classical equation of motion informed by first-principles calculations of the potential energy surface and the frequency-dependent macroscopic dielectric function along the zone-centered optical phonon coordinates. Using this approach, we demonstrate that phonons with the largest optomechanical couplings also have the strongest degree of anharmonicity among the zone-centered modes, a result of the broken-symmetry structural ground state of Bi and Sb. We show how this anharmonicity, explaining the light-induced phonon softening observed in experiments, prevents the application of standard phonon-amplification and annihilation protocols. We introduce a simple linearization protocol that extends the use of such protocols to the case of anharmonic phonons in broken-symmetry materials, and demonstrate its efficiency at high displacement amplitudes. Our formalism and results provide a path for improving optical control in nonlinear phononics.