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Volume 171, 2014
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Femtosecond X-ray diffraction maps field-driven charge dynamics in ionic crystals

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X-Ray diffraction provides insight into the distribution of electronic charge in crystals. Equilibrium electron distributions have been determined with high spatial resolution by recording and analysing a large number of diffraction peaks under stationary conditions. In contrast, transient electron densities during and after structure-changing processes are mainly unknown. Recently, we have introduced femtosecond X-ray powder diffraction from polycrystalline samples to determine transient electron density maps with a spatial resolution of 0.03 nm and a temporal resolution of 100 fs. In a pump–probe approach with a laser-driven tabletop hard X-ray source, optically induced structure changes are resolved in time by diffracting the hard X-ray probe pulses at different time delays from the excited powder sample and recording up to several tens of reflections simultaneously. Time-dependent changes of the atomic arrangement in the crystal lattice as well as modified electron densities are derived from the diffraction data. As a prototypical field-driven process, we address here quasi-instantaneous changes of electron density in LiBH4, LiH and NaBH4 in response to a non-resonant strong optical field. The light-induced charge relocation in LiBH4 and NaBH4 exhibits an electron transfer from the anion (BH4) to the respective cation. The distorted geometry of the BH4 tetrahedron in LiBH4 leads to different contributions of the H atoms to electron transfer. LiH displays a charge transfer from Li to H, i.e., an increase of the ionicity of LiH in the presence of the strong electric field. This unexpected behavior originates from strong electron correlations in LiH as is evident from a comparison with quasi-particle bandstructures calculated within the Coulomb-hole-plus-screened-exchange (COHSEX) formalism.

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Publication details

The article was received on 28 Feb 2014, accepted on 17 Mar 2014 and first published on 28 Jul 2014

Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4FD00026A
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Citation: Faraday Discuss., 2014,171, 373-392

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    Femtosecond X-ray diffraction maps field-driven charge dynamics in ionic crystals

    M. Woerner, M. Holtz, V. Juvé, T. Elsaesser and A. Borgschulte, Faraday Discuss., 2014, 171, 373
    DOI: 10.1039/C4FD00026A

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