Ultra-fast time-resolved electron diffraction of strongly driven phase transitions on silicon surfaces
The dynamics of strongly driven phase transitions at surfaces are studied by ultra-fast time-resolved reflection high energy electron diffraction. The surfaces are excited by an intense fs-laser pulse (pump) and probed by an ultra-short electron pulse with variable time delay. The order-disorder phase transition from a c(4×2) to a (2×1) of the bare Si(001) surface shows a transient decrease of the intensity of the c(4×2) spots which recovers on a time scale of a few hundred picoseconds indicating the excitation of the phase transition. On Si(111) a monolayer of Indium induces a (4×1) reconstruction which undergoes a Peierls like phase transition to a (8×“2”) reconstruction below 100 K. Upon laser excitation at a temperature of 40 K the phase transition was strongly driven. The (8×“2”)-diffraction spots instantaneously disappears, while the intensity of the (4×1)-spots increases. This increase of the (4×1) spot intensity excludes an explanation by the Debye-Waller-Effect and is evidence for a true structural phase transition at a surface.
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