Light-Activated Gigahertz Ferroelectric Domain Dynamics

Hirofumi Akamatsu, Yakun Yuan, Vladimir A. Stoica, Greg Stone, Tiannan Yang, Zijian Hong, Shiming Lei, Yi Zhu, Ryan C. Haislmaier, John W. Freeland, Long Qing Chen, Haidan Wen, Venkatraman Gopalan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)


Using time- and spatially resolved hard x-ray diffraction microscopy, the striking structural and electrical dynamics upon optical excitation of a single crystal of BaTiO3 are simultaneously captured on subnanoseconds and nanoscale within individual ferroelectric domains and across walls. A large emergent photoinduced electric field of up to 20×106 V/m is discovered in a surface layer of the crystal, which then drives polarization and lattice dynamics that are dramatically distinct in a surface layer versus bulk regions. A dynamical phase-field modeling method is developed that reveals the microscopic origin of these dynamics, leading to gigahertz polarization and elastic waves traveling in the crystal with sonic speeds and spatially varying frequencies. The advances in spatiotemporal imaging and dynamical modeling tools open up opportunities for disentangling ultrafast processes in complex mesoscale structures such as ferroelectric domains.

Original languageEnglish
Article number096101
JournalPhysical review letters
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Feb 26 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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