Non-instantaneous polarization in perovskite-like ferroelectrics revealed by correlated (ultra)fast luminescence and absorption spectroscopy. On the formation of self-trapped excitons in lithium niobate and their relation to small electron and hole polaron pairs

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Title: Non-instantaneous polarization in perovskite-like ferroelectrics revealed by correlated (ultra)fast luminescence and absorption spectroscopy. On the formation of self-trapped excitons in lithium niobate and their relation to small electron and hole polaron pairs
Authors: Krampf, Andreas
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Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Mirco Imlau
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Simone Sanna
Abstract: In this work the transient non-instantaneous polarization, i.e., laser-pulse injected small polarons and self-trapped excitons, is studied in the perovskite-like ferroelectric lithium niobate. The investigations span a time scale from femtoseconds to several hours. It is shown that the established small polaron picture is not able to describe transient absorption and photoluminescence of lithium niobate consistently. Several strong indications are presented demonstrating that the photoluminescence cannot be caused by geminate small polaron annihilation. Instead, the idea of radiatively decaying self-trapped excitons at the origin of the blue-green photoluminescence is revived. Excitons pinned on defect sites are proposed to lead to the already observed long-lived transient absorption in the blue spectral range in Mg- and Fe-doped crystals. Excitons pinned on iron-defects are studied in more detail. Their spectral fingerprint and absorption cross section is determined. Furthermore, it is shown that the occurrence of these pinned STEs can be tailored by chemical treatment of the samples and the experimental parameters such as the pump pulse intensity and photon energy. Based on the new experimental results and reviewing data published in literature, an atomistic picture of hopping and pinning of self-trapped excitons in lithium niobate is proposed. The question is addressed whether small polarons and self-trapped excitons in lithium niobate are coupled species in the sense that oppositely-charged polarons may merge into self-trapped excitons or STEs break into small polaron pairs. Decay kinetics of transient absorption and luminescence assigned to free small polarons and STEs indicate that this is not the case. For a more complete picture the ultrafast time scale is investigated as well. The formation times of small polarons and STEs are determined, which both lie in the range of 200 fs. No indications are found on the (sub)picosecond time scale indicating a coupling of both quasi-particle species either. In order to gain access to the formation of self-trapped excitons a custom-built femtosecond broadband fluorescence upconversion spectrometer is installed. Based on an already existing scheme, it is adapted to the inspection of weakly luminescent solid samples by changing to an all reflective geometry for luminescence collection. To avoid the necessity for an experimentally determined photometric correction of the used setup, an already established calculation method is extended considering the finite spectral bandwidth of the gate pulses. The findings presented here are important not only as fundamental research, but also regarding the technical application of lithium niobate and other similar nonlinear optical crystals. The simultaneous occurrence of both small polarons and self-trapped excitons is a rather rarely described phenomenon. Usually, the optical response of wide band gap oxide dielectrics is associated with only one of these quasi-particle species. This work may therefore be a stimulus to review the existing microscopic models for transient phenomena in other oxide dielectrics, which may help to improve their application in nonlinear optical and electro-optical devices. In this context the ultrafast transient photoluminescence spectroscopy established here for weakly luminescing solid samples may again provide valuable insight. With respect to lithium niobate, the results do not only resolve inconsistencies between the microscopic pictures described in literature, but also provide information regarding the extends to which the propagation of ultrashort laser pulses may be affected by (pinned-)STE absorption. It is shown that tailoring of the long-lived absorption center in the blue spectral range is possible, which may be used to avoid optical damage when high repetition rates are applied. It is important to emphasize that the microscopic model proposed in this work is mainly based on experimental indications. It is the task of further detailed theoretical investigations, e.g., via time-dependent density functional theory, to test whether the proposed model is justified. From an experimental perspective the important question remains whether (pinned-)STEs contribute to a photorefractive effect. In the experimentally easily accessible spectral range no absorption feature of mobile STEs is observed. As a complementary experimental technique, ultrafast holographic spectroscopy may reveal an excitonic contribution to photorefraction and provide further insight to STE transport and pinning phenomena.
Subject Keywords: Self-trapped excitons; Small polarons; Nonlinear optics; Lithium niobate; Absorption spectroscopy; Luminescence spectroscopy
Issue Date: 28-Aug-2020
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB04 - E-Dissertationen

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