Terahertz field-induced ferroelectricity in quantum paraelectric SrTiO3

X Li and T Qiu and JH Zhang and E Baldini and J Lu and AM Rappe and KA Nelson, SCIENCE, 364, 1079-+ (2019).

DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw4913

"Hidden phases" are metastable collective states of matter that are typically not accessible on equilibrium phase diagrams. These phases can host exotic properties in otherwise conventional materials and hence may enable novel functionality and applications, but their discovery and access are still in early stages. Using intense terahertz electric field excitation, we found that an ultrafast phase transition into a hidden ferroelectric phase can be dynamically induced in quantum paraelectric strontium titanate (SrTiO3). The induced lowering in crystal symmetry yields substantial changes in the phonon excitation spectra. Our results demonstrate collective coherent control over material structure, in which a single-cycle field drives ions along the microscopic pathway leading directly to their locations in a new crystalline phase on an ultrafast time scale.

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