Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

  • Research Briefing
  • Published:

Enhancing the efficiency of light-induced phase transitions through transient local distortions

Ultrafast light pulses, if they are sufficiently intense, can induce phase transitions on ultrafast timescales. It is now shown that when a system is first excited by a weak preparatory pulse, this generates local changes in structure that transiently lower the energy barrier to the phase transition, enabling high-speed and energy-efficient transitions.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Buy this article

Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Fig. 1: Two-pulse excitation of vanadium dioxide.

References

  1. Horstmann, J. G. et al. Coherent control of a surface structural phase transition. Nature 583, 232–236 (2020). This paper reports the demonstration of coherent control of a phase transition.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  2. Wall, S. et al. Ultrafast changes in lattice symmetry probed by coherent phonons. Nat. Commun. 3, 721 (2012). This paper reports the coherence lattice response of VO2 and how it changes with excitation.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  3. Wall, S. et al. Ultrafast disordering of vanadium dimers in photoexcited VO2. Science 362, 572–576 (2018). This paper demonstrates that structural disorder drives the phase transition in VO2 on the ultrafast timescale.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  4. Simonov, A. & Goodwin, A. L. Designing disorder into crystalline materials. Nat. Rev. Chem. 4, 657–673 (2020). A review article that presents how local disorder can induce new functionality in materials.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. de la Peña Muñoz, G. A. et al. Ultrafast lattice disordering can be accelerated by electronic collisional forces. Nat. Phys. 19, 1489–1494 (2023). A paper demonstrating that the scattering from the thermal bath is key for the photoinduced phase transition in VO2.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Additional information

Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

This is a summary of: Johnson, A. S. et al. All-optical seeding of a light-induced phase transition with correlated disorder. Nat. Phys. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-024-02474-4 (2024).

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Enhancing the efficiency of light-induced phase transitions through transient local distortions. Nat. Phys. 20, 903–904 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-024-02475-3

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-024-02475-3

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing