Controlling a phase of matter by coherently manipulating specific vibrational modes has long been an attractive (yet elusive) goal for ultrafast science. Solids with strongly correlated electrons, in which even subtle crystallographic distortions can result in colossal changes of the electronic and magnetic properties, could be directed between competing phases by such selective vibrational excitation. In this way, the dynamics of the electronic ground state of the system become accessible, and new insight into the underlying physics might be gained. Here we report the ultrafast switching of the electronic phase of a magnetoresistive manganite via direct excitation of a phonon mode at 71 meV (17 THz). A prompt, five-order-of-magnitude drop in resistivity is observed, associated with a non-equilibrium transition from the stable insulating phase to a metastable metallic phase. In contrast with light-induced1,2,3 and current-driven4 phase transitions, the vibrationally driven bandgap collapse observed here is not related to hot-carrier injection and is uniquely attributed to a large-amplitude Mn–O distortion. This corresponds to a perturbation of the perovskite-structure tolerance factor, which in turn controls the electronic bandwidth via inter-site orbital overlap5,6. Phase control by coherent manipulation of selected metal–oxygen phonons should find extensive application in other complex solids—notably in copper oxide superconductors, in which the role of Cu–O vibrations on the electronic properties is currently controversial.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Kiriukhin, V. et al. An X-ray induced insulator–metal transition in a magnetoresistive manganite. Nature 386, 813–815 (1997)
Miyano, K. Tanaka, T. Tomioka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Photoinduced insulator-to-metal transition in a perovskite manganite. Phys. Rev. Lett. 78, 4257–4260 (1997)
Fiebig, M. Miyano, K. Tomioka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Visualization of the local insulator-metal transition in Pr0. 7Ca0. 3MnO3 . Science 280, 1925–1928 (1998)
Asamitsu, A. Tomioka, Y. Kuwahara, H. & Tokura, Y. Current switching of resistive states in magnetoresistive manganites. Nature 388, 50–52 (1997)
Tokura, Y. Colossal Magnetoresistive Oxides Ch. 1 (Gordon & Breach Science Publishers, Amsterdam, 2000)
Dagotto, E. Nanoscale Phase Separation and Colossal Magnetoresistance Ch. 2–3 (Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, 2002)
Salamon, M. B. & Jaime, M. The physics of manganites: structure and transport. Rev. Mod. Phys. 73, 583–628 (2001)
Tomioka, Y. Asamitsu, A. Kuwahara, H. & Moritomo, Y. Magnetic-field-induced metal-insulator phenomena in Pr0. 7Ca0. 3MnO3 with controlled charge-ordering instability. Phys. Rev. B 53, 1689–1692 (1996)
Anderson, P. W. & Hasegawa, H. Considerations on double exchange. Phys. Rev. 100, 675–681 (1955)
Imada, M. Fujimori, A. & Tokura, Y. Metal-insulator transitions. Rev. Mod. Phys. 70, 1039–1263 (1998)
Hwang, H. Y. Cheong, S-W. Radaelli, P. G., Marezio, M. & Batlogg, B. Lattice effects on the magnetoresistance in doped LaMnO3 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 75, 914–917 (1995)
Okimoto, Y. Tomioka, Y. Onose, Y., Otsuka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Optical study of Pr1-xCaxMnO3 (x = 0.4) in a magnetic field: Variation of electronic structure with charge ordering and disordering phase transitions. Phys. Rev. B 59, 7401–7408 (1999)
Boris, A. V. et al. Infrared optical properties of La0. 7Ca0. 3MnO3 epitaxial films. J. Appl. Phys. 81, 5756–5758 (1997)
Ogawa, K. Wei, W. Miyano, K., Tomioka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Stability of a photoinduced insulator-metal transition in Pr0. 7Ca0. 3MnO3 . Phys. Rev. B 57, R15033–R15036 (1998)
Fiebig, M. Miyano, K. Tomioka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Reflection spectroscopy on the photoinduced local metallic phase of Pr0. 7Ca0. 3MnO3 . Appl. Phys. Lett. 74, 2310–2312 (1999)
Fiebig, M. Miyano, K. Satoh, T., Tomioka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Action spectra of the two-stage photoinduced insulator-metal transition in Pr0. 7Ca0. 3MnO3 . Phys. Rev. B 60, 7944–7949 (1999)
Fiebig, M. Miyano, K. Tomioka, Y. & Tokura, Y. Sub-picosecond photo-induced melting of a charge-ordered state in a perovskite manganite. Appl. Phys. B 71, 211–215 (2000)
Tomioka, Y. Asamitsu, A. Moritomo, Y. & Tokura, Y. Anomalous magnetotransport properties of Pr1-xCaxMnO3 . J. Phys. Soc. Jpn 64, 3626–3630 (1995)
Millis, A. J. Shraiman, B. I. & Mueller, R. Dynamic Jahn–Teller effect and colossal magnetoresistance in La1-xSrxMnO3 . Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 175–178 (1996)
Choe, S.-B. et al. Vortex core-driven magnetization dynamics. Science 304, 420–422 (2004)
Zener, C. Interaction between the d-shells in the transition metals. II. Ferromagnetic compounds of manganese with perovskite structure. Phys. Rev. 82, 403–405 (1950)
We thank Y. Okimoto for providing the optical conductivity spectra and S. Wall for help in the figures preparation. This work was supported by the Director, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division, of the US Department of Energy. Work at the University of Oxford, UK, was supported by the European Science Foundation through a European Young Investigator Award, and by the Oxford University Press through a John Fell Award.
Reprints and permissions information is available at www.nature.com/reprints. The authors declare no competing financial interests.
About this article
Cite this article
Rini, M., Tobey, R., Dean, N. et al. Control of the electronic phase of a manganite by mode-selective vibrational excitation. Nature 449, 72–74 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature06119
Physical Review Research (2021)
Light-wave control of correlated materials using quantum magnetism during time-periodic modulation of coherent transport
Communications Physics (2021)
EPL (Europhysics Letters) (2021)
Physical Review B (2021)
Physical Review B (2021)