Science, Vol.362, No.6416, 821-+, 2018
Beyond the molecular movie: Dynamics of bands and bonds during a photoinduced phase transition
Ultrafast nonequilibrium dynamics offer a route to study the microscopic interactions that govern macroscopic behavior. In particular, photoinduced phase transitions (PIPTs) in solids provide a test case for how forces, and the resulting atomic motion along a reaction coordinate, originate from a nonequilibrium population of excited electronic states. Using femtosecond photoemission, we obtain access to the transient electronic structure during an ultrafast PIPT in a model system: indium nanowires on a silicon(111) surface. We uncover a detailed reaction pathway, allowing a direct comparison with the dynamics predicted by ab initio simulations. This further reveals the crucial role played by localized photoholes in shaping the potential energy landscape and enables a combined momentum-and real-space description of PIPTs, including the ultrafast formation of chemical bonds.