Ferroelectrics are an area of current research, with important technological applications such as ferroelectric random access memories, infrared cameras or medical ultrasound equipment. This class of crystalline solids do not commonly only exhibit a ferroelectric phase, but rather go through an abundant variety of para- and ferroelectric phases that depend on the temperature. The ferroelectric phases present a spontaneous electric polarization even in the absence of an external field, in contrast to paraelectric phases and also exhibit a hysteresis loop in analogy to ferromagnets. This macroscopic feature has its origin in their peculiar electronic structure, which results from a rich diversity of lattice geometries and complex microscopic charge distributions. At the atomic level, however, the intricate characteristics of ferroelectrics are only partially understood. The link between microscopic charge distributions and macroscopic electric polarization poses a crucial question to be solved. The interplay of charge dynamics and lattice excitations are still unresolved on atomic length and time scales. In this thesis, femtosecond X-Ray powder diffraction is used to find questions for these opened questions. This method allows for the experimental determination of time-resolved charge density maps from where the structural, charge and polarization dynamics are can be derived. These maps are determined for photoexcited ferroelectric ammonium sulphate just below its Curie temperature. Data analysis has revealed a newly discovered low frequency lattice oscillation with a 3ps period and sub-picometer nuclear displacements that is related to periodic charge relocations on a 100pm length scale, which is a feature indicative of soft mode behavior. Finally, the dynamics of the variation of polarization are derived for the first time, showing an oscillatory reversal of polarity that holds potential for ultrafast switching applications.
|Advisor:||Elsässer , Thomas , Bargheer , Matias , Benson , Oliver|
|School:||Humboldt Universitaet zu Berlin (Germany)|
|Source:||DAI-C 81/8(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
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