Nonthermal phase transitions in metals

Nikita Medvedev* (Corresponding Author), Igor Milov

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

It is well known that sufficiently thick metals irradiated with ultrafast laser pulses exhibit phonon hardening, in contrast to ultrafast nonthermal melting in covalently bonded materials. It is still an open question how finite size metals react to irradiation. We show theoretically that generally metals, under high electronic excitation, undergo nonthermal phase transitions if material expansion is allowed (e.g. in finite samples). The nonthermal phase transitions are induced via an increase of the electronic pressure which leads to metal expansion. This, in turn, destabilizes the lattice triggering a phase transition without a thermal electron-ion coupling mechanism involved. We find that hexagonal close-packed metals exhibit a diffusionless transition into a cubic phase, whereas metals with a cubic lattice melt. In contrast to covalent solids, nonthermal phase transitions in metals are not ultrafast, predicative on the lattice expansion.
Original languageEnglish
Article number12775
JournalScientific reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2020

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