High-harmonic spectroscopy of ultrafast many-body dynamics in strongly correlated systems


We bring together two topics that, until now, have been the focus of intense but non-overlapping research efforts. The first concerns high-harmonic generation in solids, which occurs when an intense light field excites a highly non-equilibrium electronic response in a semiconductor or a dielectric. The second concerns many-body dynamics in strongly correlated systems such as the Mott insulator. We show that high-harmonic generation can be used to time-resolve ultrafast many-body dynamics associated with an optically driven phase transition, with accuracy far exceeding one cycle of the driving light field. Our work paves the way for time-resolving highly non-equilibrium many-body dynamics in strongly correlated systems, with few femtosecond accuracy.

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Fig. 1: Time-resolved light-induced breakdown in the Mott insulator.
Fig. 2: High-harmonic spectroscopy of light-induced transition in a strongly correlated system.
Fig. 3: High-harmonic spectroscopy of light-induced transition in a strongly correlated system.
Fig. 4: High-harmonic spectroscopy of light-induced transition in a strongly correlated system for U/t0 = 5.


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The authors acknowledge fruitful discussions with T. Oka, B. Amorim and P. Hawkins. M.I. and R.E.F.S. acknowledge support from EPSRC/DSTL MURI grant EP/N018680/1.

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R.E.F.S. developed the numerical code. M.I., R.E.F.S and O.S. developed the idea. All authors contributed to analysis of the results. M.I. and R.E.F.S. wrote the main part of the manuscript, which was discussed by all authors.

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Correspondence to R. E. F. Silva or M. Ivanov.

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Silva, R.E.F., Blinov, I.V., Rubtsov, A.N. et al. High-harmonic spectroscopy of ultrafast many-body dynamics in strongly correlated systems. Nature Photon 12, 266–270 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-018-0129-0

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