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Journal Article

Ultrafast nanoimaging of the order parameter in a structural phase transition


Ropers,  C.       
Department of Ultrafast Dynamics, MPI for Biophysical Chemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Danz, T., Domröse, T., & Ropers, C. (2021). Ultrafast nanoimaging of the order parameter in a structural phase transition. Science, 371(6527), 371-374. doi:10.1126/science.abd2774.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000A-2372-E
Understanding microscopic processes in materials and devices that can be switched by light requires experimental access to dynamics on nanometer length and femtosecond time scales. Here, we introduce ultrafast dark-field electron microscopy to map the order parameter across a structural phase transition. We use ultrashort laser pulses to locally excite a 1T-TaS2 (1T-polytype of tantalum disulfide) thin film and image the transient state of the specimen by ultrashort electron pulses. A tailored dark-field aperture array allows us to track the evolution of charge-density wave domains in the material with simultaneous femtosecond temporal and 5-nanometer spatial resolution, elucidating relaxation pathways and domain wall dynamics. The distinctive benefits of selective contrast enhancement will inspire future beam-shaping technology in ultrafast transmission electron microscopy.