Normal-to-topological insulator martensitic phase transition in group-IV monochalcogenides driven by light
Author(s)Zhou, Jian; Zhang, Shunhong; Li, Ju
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© 2020, The Author(s). A material potentially exhibiting multiple crystalline phases with distinct optoelectronic properties can serve as a phase-change memory material. The sensitivity and kinetics can be enhanced when the two competing phases have large electronic structure contrast and the phase change process is diffusionless and martensitic. In this work, we theoretically and computationally illustrate that such a phase transition could occur in the group-IV monochalcogenide SnSe compound, which can exist in the quantum topologically trivial Pnma-SnSe and nontrivial Fm3 ¯ m-SnSe phases. Furthermore, owing to the electronic band structure differences of these phases, a large contrast in the optical responses in the THz region is revealed. According to the thermodynamic theory for a driven dielectric medium, optomechanical control to trigger a topological phase transition using a linearly polarized laser with selected frequency, power and pulse duration is proposed. We further estimate the critical optical electric field to drive a barrierless transition that can occur on the picosecond timescale. This light actuation strategy does not require fabrication of mechanical contacts or electrical leads and only requires transparency. We predict that an optically driven phase transition accompanied by a large entropy difference can be used in an “optocaloric” cooling device.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
NPG Asia Materials
Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Zhou, Jian, Zhang, Shunhong and Li, Ju. 2020. "Normal-to-topological insulator martensitic phase transition in group-IV monochalcogenides driven by light." NPG Asia Materials, 12.
Final published version