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Experts Discover a Surprising Mechanism for Controlling Ferroelectric Polarization in a Deterministic Manner

Peng Chen and Laurent Bellaiche of the University of Arkansas have found an astounding mechanism for controlling ferroelectric polarization in a deterministic manner by applying light.

Experts Discover a Surprising Mechanism for Controlling Ferroelectric Polarization in a Deterministic Manner.
Peng Chen and Laurent Bellaiche, University of Arkansas. Image Credit: University of Arkansas.

The discovery, which was made possible by the use of ultrafast laser pulses, adds to fundamental physics research by improving the understanding of light–matter interactions.

The study, which was published on May 10th, 2022, in the Nature Communications journal, is a significant step forward in the design and development of superior sensing and data storage in electronic devices.

Ferroelectric materials exhibit ferroelectricity as well as the capacity to instantaneously polarize. Using an external electric field, scientists can generally manipulate and reverse this polarization. Another impressive route for controlling ferroelectric polarization is ultrafast interactions between light and matter, but scientists have yet to achieve deterministic light-induced polarization control.

In ferroelectric materials exposed to femtosecond laser pulses, the scientists found a “squeezing effect.” One femtosecond is equivalent to one quadrillionth of a second. These pulses broke down the polarization component that is parallel to the field’s direction and established polarization components perpendicular to it. This squeezing effect enabled deterministic polarization control by light.

The applied Terahertz pulse prefers to annihilate the polarization component along the field’s direction, in favor of components perpendicular to the field associated with the pulses. We consider this a novel Terahertz phenomenon when light interacts with ferroelectric materials. Our findings should stimulate technical progress.

Peng Chen, Study First Author and Research Associate, University of Arkansas

Peng Chen is a research associate in Bellaiche’s lab.

Chen and Bellaiche — Distinguished Professor of physics — associated with former research associates in Bellaiche’s laboratory, Charles Paillard and Hongjian Zhao, and Jorge Íñiguez at the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology.

Researchers in Bellaiche’s lab investigate the properties of various materials.

Journal Reference:

Chen, P., et al. (2022) Deterministic control of ferroelectric polarization by ultrafast laser pulses. Nature Communications.

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