Light-driven dynamical tuning of the thermal conductivity in ferroelectrics


Cazorla C., Bichelmaier S., Escorihuela-Sayalero C., Íñiguez J., Carrete J., Rurali R.


Nanoscale, vol. 16, n° 17, pp. 8335-8344, 2024


Dynamical tuning of the thermal conductivity in crystals, κ, is critical for thermal management applications, as well as for energy harvesting and the development of novel phononic devices able to perform logic operations with phonons. Such a desired κ control can be achieved in functional materials that experience large structural and phonon variations as a result of field-induced phase transformations. However, this approach is only practical within reduced temperature intervals containing zero-bias phase transition points, since otherwise the necessary driving fields become excessively large and the materials’ performances are detrimentally affected. Here, based on first-principles calculations, we propose an alternative strategy for dynamically tuning κ that is operative over broad temperature conditions and realizable in a wide class of materials. By shining light on the archetypal perovskite oxide KNbO3, we predict that ultrafast and reversible ferroelectric-to-paraelectric phase transitions are induced, yielding large and anisotropic κ variations (up to ≈30% at T = 300 K). These light-induced thermal transport shifts can take place at temperatures spanning several hundreds of kelvin and are essentially the result of anharmonic effects affecting the phonon lifetimes.



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