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Local symmetry breaking drives picosecond spin domain formation in polycrystalline halide perovskite films


Photoinduced spin–charge interconversion in semiconductors with spin–orbit coupling could provide a route to optically addressable spintronics without the use of external magnetic fields. However, in structurally disordered polycrystalline semiconductors, which are being widely explored for device applications, the presence and role of spin-associated charge currents remains unclear. Here, using femtosecond circular-polarization-resolved pump–probe microscopy on polycrystalline halide perovskite thin films, we observe the photoinduced ultrafast formation of spin domains on the micrometre scale formed through lateral spin currents. Micrometre-scale variations in the intensity of optical second-harmonic generation and vertical piezoresponse suggest that the spin-domain formation is driven by the presence of strong local inversion symmetry breaking via structural disorder. We propose that this leads to spatially varying Rashba-like spin textures that drive spin-momentum-locked currents, leading to local spin accumulation. Ultrafast spin-domain formation in polycrystalline halide perovskite films provides an optically addressable platform for nanoscale spin-device physics.

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Fig. 1: Picosecond spin-domain formation.
Fig. 2: Local lateral spin-current formation.
Fig. 3: Inversion of spin-domain formation by inverting pump helicity.
Fig. 4: Signatures of local inversion symmetry breaking.
Fig. 5: Toy model of spin currents in a polycrystalline local inversion asymmetric environment.

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Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available at the University of Cambridge Repository at


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We thank E. Gottlob and R. Friend for helpful discussions and A. Giudici for help with figure preparation. We acknowledge funding support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC, UK) via grants EP/M006360/1 and EP/S030638/1. We acknowledge financial support from the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability. This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (grant agreement no. 758826). A.A. acknowledges funding from the Gates Cambridge Trust and as well as support from the Winton Programme for the Physics of Sustainability. S.N. acknowledges EPSRC (EP/012932/1) for funding. J.L.M.-D. and N.S. acknowledge funding from a Royal Academy of Engineering Chair in Emerging Technologies grant (CIET1819_24), a Swiss National Science Foundation grant (P2EZP2-199913) and an ERC grant (EU-H2020-ERC-ADG 882929 EROS). J.S. acknowledges support from a National Research Foundation of Korea grant funded by the Korean government (Ministry of Science and ICT; no. 2022R1C1C1005970). S.F. acknowledges support from the Rowland Fellowship at the Rowland Institute at Harvard University. S.D.S. acknowledges the EPSRC (EP/R023980/1, EP/012932/1 and EP/S030638/1) for funding. This work was funded by the UKRI. For the purpose of open access, the author has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.A., S.F. and A.R. conceived the project. A.A. performed all the optical experiments and built and programmed the pulse shaper for pulse compression. S.N. and B.R. fabricated the halide perovskite films. N.S. performed the PFM measurements. A.S. contributed to the analysis of possible optical artefacts in the signal. A.A. and A.J.S. built the pump–probe microscope set-up. J.S. supervised the building of the pump–probe microscope set-up. J.L.M.-D. supervised the PFM measurements. S.D.S. supervised the work of S.N. and B.R.; S.F. and A.R. supervised the project. A.A. wrote the manuscript with input from all authors.

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Correspondence to Sascha Feldmann or Akshay Rao.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–32, captions for Videos 1 and 2 and text.

Supplementary Video 1

A video showing the photoinduced wide-field spin polarization underlying the data presented in Fig. 1 of the main text. Here the spin-polarized wide-field images display a flat background before the arrival of the pump pulse at 0 fs. Upon arrival of the pump pulse, the domains are immediately formed, as we are probing well below the photoexcitation, and spin scattering effects have already taken place before the charge carriers arrive at the band edge (750 nm), where we image. The video shows that at later time delays, the negative regions have grown in magnitude as compared to the positive regions, which have an ultrafast rise and remain constant thereafter.

Supplementary Video 2

A video of the time-resolved propagation of the spin-polarized local currents in the micrometre-scale disordered landscape shown in Fig. 4 of the main text using a Monte Carlo toy model. Here the time step between each frame is 100 fs, and the total simulation time is 10 ps. The orange circles represent the co-polarized spins, and we initialize a uniform grid of these at time zero. Upon scattering to the other branch of the Rashba-like bands, the spin-polarized local currents change their colour to blue and also reverse direction due to spin-momentum locking in any given region. The black lines demarcate the local boundaries shown in Fig. 5 of the main text. The spin accumulation of the blue and orange spin currents with time can be seen by eye.

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Ashoka, A., Nagane, S., Strkalj, N. et al. Local symmetry breaking drives picosecond spin domain formation in polycrystalline halide perovskite films. Nat. Mater. 22, 977–984 (2023).

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