Ultrafast Photovoltaic Response in Ferroelectric Nanolayers

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We show that light drives large-amplitude structural changes in thin films of the prototypical ferroelectric PbTiO3 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.


  • 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
  • David A. Reis
  • Klaus Sokolowski-Tinten
  • Keith A. Nelson
  • Andrew M. Rappe
  • Paul H. Fuoss
  • G. Brian Stephenson
  • Aaron M. Lindenberg
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Atom and Molecular Physics and Optics
Original languageEnglish
Article number087601
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch

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