Lightwave control of topological properties in 2D materials for sub-cycle and non-resonant valley manipulation

Abstract

Modern light generation technology offers extraordinary capabilities for sculpting light pulses, with full control over individual electric field oscillations within each laser cycle1,2,3. These capabilities are at the core of lightwave electronics—the dream of ultrafast lightwave control over electron dynamics in solids on a sub-cycle timescale, aiming at information processing at petahertz rates4,5,6,7,8. Here, bringing the frequency-domain concept of topological Floquet systems9,10 to the few-femtosecond time domain, we develop a theoretical method that can be implemented with existing technology, to control the topological properties of two-dimensional materials on few-femtosecond timescales by controlling the sub-cycle structure of non-resonant driving fields. We use this method to propose an all-optical, non-element-specific technique, physically transparent in real space, to coherently write, manipulate and read selective valley excitation using fields carried in a wide range of frequencies and on timescales that are orders of magnitude shorter than the valley lifetime, crucial for the implementation of valleytronic devices11,12.

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Fig. 1: Light-induced modification of the band structure with tailored field.
Fig. 2: Selective valley excitation in strong fields.
Fig. 3: Strong-field manipulation and optical reading of valley polarization.
Fig. 4: Time-dependent AHC in hBN induced by the bicircular field.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

Á.J.-G. and M.I. acknowledge support from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) Quantum Dynamics in Tailored Intense Fields (QUTIF) grant IV 152/6-1. R.E.F.S. and M.I. acknowledge support from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council/Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (EPSRC/DSTL) Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative (MURI) grant no. EP/N018680/1. R.E.F.S. acknowledges support from the European Research Council Starting Grant (ERC-2016-STG714870). O.S. acknowledges support from the DFG Schwerpunktprogramm 1840 Quantum Dynamics in Tailored Intense Fields project SM 292/5-1 and Molecular Electron Dynamics Investigated by Intense Fields and Attosecond Pulses (MEDEA) project, which has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant no. 641789.

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All authors developed the idea. Á.J.-G. and R.E.F.S. developed and performed the numerical calculations and analysed the data. M.I. and O.S. developed the analytical treatment. Á.J.-G. and M.I. wrote the main part of the manuscript, which was discussed by all authors.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Á. Jiménez-Galán or M. Ivanov.

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Supplementary discussion and Figs. 1–6.

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Jiménez-Galán, Á., Silva, R.E.F., Smirnova, O. et al. Lightwave control of topological properties in 2D materials for sub-cycle and non-resonant valley manipulation. Nat. Photonics 14, 728–732 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41566-020-00717-3

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