Ultrafast photovoltaic response in ferroelectric nanolayers

Dan Daranciang, Matthew J. Highland, Haidan Wen, Steve M. Young, Nathaniel C. Brandt, Harold Y. Hwang, Michael Vattilana, Matthieu Nicoul, Florian Quirin, John Goodfellow, Tingting Qi, Ilya Grinberg, David M. Fritz, Marco Cammarata, Diling Zhu, Henrik T. Lemke, Donald A. Walko, Eric M. Dufresne, Yuelin Li, Jörgen LarssonDavid A. Reis, Klaus Sokolowski-Tinten, Keith A. Nelson, Andrew M. Rappe, Paul H. Fuoss, G. Brian Stephenson, Aaron M. Lindenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

143 Scopus citations


We show that light drives large-amplitude structural changes in thin films of the prototypical ferroelectric PbTiO 3 via direct coupling to its intrinsic photovoltaic response. Using time-resolved x-ray scattering to visualize atomic displacements on femtosecond time scales, photoinduced changes in the unit-cell tetragonality are observed. These are driven by the motion of photogenerated free charges within the ferroelectric and can be simply explained by a model including both shift and screening currents, associated with the displacement of electrons first antiparallel to and then parallel to the ferroelectric polarization direction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number087601
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - 24 Feb 2012
Externally publishedYes


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