Image Ultrafast dynamics in solids and nanostructures

Ultrafast dynamics in solids and nanostructures

Dr. V. S. Yakovlev , Theoretical Physics, LMU

We are a theoretical subgroup within the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (LAP) at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (MPQ). This group does basic research on phenomena where characteristic time scales are comparable to or smaller than a few hundreds of attoseconds (one attosecond is 10-18 seconds). Together with experimentalists, we are investigating a broad range of attosecond-scale phenomena in various systems from isolated atoms to solids and nanostructures. The role of theory here is twofold: on the one hand, analytical and numerical models are indispensable for understanding and interpreting measurements; on the other hand, theory provides guidance for future experiments by clarifying opportunities and warning against pitfalls, by identifying most important questions that future measurements should answer, and by providing conceptual insights into new regimes of light-matter interaction.

Major research areas

Recent advances in the generation of intense optical waveforms offer exciting opportunities for studying ultrafast dynamics in solids, mesoscopic structures and nanostructures. On the one hand, it has become possible to expose solids to extremely strong fields without destroying them. On the other hand, it has become possible to steer the motion of charge carriers by precisely controlling optical fields. For basic research, it is an opportunity to study new, “unusual” regimes of light-matter interaction. For potential future applications, this is an opportunity to extend concept of electronics to petahertz frequencies.

Our recent theoretical research has clarified several aspects of recent LAP experiments, but many questions still remain open. Do dephasing and relaxation phenomena play any significant role? How does a strong laser field affect electron-phonon and electron-electron scattering? What is the most straightforward way to observe Bloch oscillations or Wannier-Stark localization in a time-resolved measurement? Is it possible to use optical waveforms to transport a localized electron wave packet? To address such questions, we need to further advance our theoretical models, perform systematic numerical investigations, and reconcile their outcomes with analytical models.