Beyond the Blink: Probing Quantum Materials at Attosecond Speeds

Researchers have developed a new spectroscopy method to study ultrafast processes in strongly correlated materials, achieving sub-femtosecond resolution.


Exploring Strongly Correlated Solids

Strongly correlated solids are complex quantum systems in which new electronic states often emerge when they interact with light. These materials, including high-temperature superconductors and certain types of magnetic materials, challenge our understanding of the microcosm and offer opportunities for various applications. Understanding the hierarchy and interplay of electronic states in these materials is crucial, as transformations between states are often associated with phase transitions.

Phase transitions are rapid transformations that occur suddenly, particularly when the material interacts with light. To better understand these transitions, researchers rely on powerful tools like X-ray lasers and attosecond science. Attosecond science enables sub-femtosecond temporal resolution, allowing researchers to study the complex charge motion triggered by laser pulses in strongly correlated systems.

Innovations in Spectroscopy

The international team of researchers has introduced a novel approach to monitor and decipher ultrafast charge motion in strongly correlated materials. They have developed a variant of ultrafast multi-dimensional spectroscopy that utilizes attosecond control of multiple colors of light to form ultrashort laser pulses. This spectroscopy technique provides sub-cycle temporal resolution and reveals the intricate interplay between electronic configurations.

Through their work, the team demonstrates that a phase transition from a metallic state to an insulating state can occur in less than a femtosecond. This breakthrough in spectroscopy opens up new avenues for investigating and influencing ultrafast processes in strongly correlated materials, surpassing previous methods and enabling the discovery of new phenomena in these materials.


Valmispild, V. N., Gorelov, E., Eckstein, M., Lichtenstein, A. I., Aoki, H., Katsnelson, M. I., Ivanov, M. Yu., & Smirnova, O. (2024). Sub-cycle multidimensional spectroscopy of strongly correlated materials. Nature Photonics. DOI: 10.1038/s41566-023-01371-1