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Title: The origin of incipient ferroelectricity in lead telluride

The interactions between electrons and lattice vibrations are fundamental to materials behaviour. In the case of group IV–VI, V and related materials, these interactions are strong, and the materials exist near electronic and structural phase transitions. The prototypical example is PbTe whose incipient ferroelectric behaviour has been recently associated with large phonon anharmonicity and thermoelectricity. Here we show that it is primarily electron-phonon coupling involving electron states near the band edges that leads to the ferroelectric instability in PbTe. Using a combination of nonequilibrium lattice dynamics measurements and first principles calculations, we find that photoexcitation reduces the Peierls-like electronic instability and reinforces the paraelectric state. This weakens the long-range forces along the cubic direction tied to resonant bonding and low lattice thermal conductivity. Lastly, our results demonstrate how free-electron-laser-based ultrafast X-ray scattering can be utilized to shed light on the microscopic mechanisms that determine materials properties.
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [2] ;  [5] ;  [6] ;  [6] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [7] ;  [8] more »;  [9] « less
  1. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States); Stanford Univ., Stanford, CA (United States)
  2. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States)
  3. Tyndall National Institute, Cork (Ireland); Univ. College Cork, Cork (Ireland)
  4. Tyndall National Institute, Cork (Ireland); Univ. College Cork, Cork (Ireland); Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom)
  5. Duke Univ., Durham, NC (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  6. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
  7. RIKEN SPring-8 Center, Hyogo (Japan); The Univ. of Tokyo, Tokyo (Japan)
  8. Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI (United States)
  9. SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States); Imperial College London, London (United Kingdom)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
AC02-76SF00515; AC05-00OR22725
Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 7; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
SLAC National Accelerator Lab., Menlo Park, CA (United States); Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
75 CONDENSED MATTER PHYSICS, SUPERCONDUCTIVITY AND SUPERFLUIDITY; electronic properties and materials; ferroelectrics and multiferroics; phase transitions and critical phenomena
OSTI Identifier:
1326211
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1329161