The feasibility to sculpt light oscillations on the attosecond (10-18s) timescale has allowed sub-laser-cycle monitoring and control of electron dynamics in gas phase. Attosecond science is now transitioning into the solid state. This route has potential for revolutionary technological impact, improving the speed of information processing by six orders of magnitude, up to the PHz. Yet, standard semiconductors, which have been the focus of most of attosecond studies in solids so far, will always suffer from high energy losses. Quantum materials offer a solution thanks to their unique properties: scatter-free transport (topological insulators), and ability to harness extra electronic degrees of freedom as information carriers (valleytronics). This proposal brings together two fields that have traditionally been apart, attosecond laser technology and quantum materials. Bringing attosecond and strong-field physics into lightwave control of quantum materials, this combined theoretical and experimental project aims to: (i) induce, control and probe electronic and topological properties in quantum materials (2D materials, 3D topological insulators) at few-femtosecond to attosecond timescales via non-resonant, intense tailored light fields, (ii) manipulate and read the electronic valley and spin degrees of freedom at optical (PHz) rates in the non-resonant strong-field regime, i.e. in a way such that the same laser system can be used for a wide range of monolayers and heterostructures. On the one hand, the QUMATTO project has the potential to open new routes for ultra-fast information processing in energy-efficient materials. On the other, it will allow to gain new understanding of quantum properties, e.g. laser-induced topological phase transitions, by studying them at the ultrafast timescales of coherent electron motion.
Fields of science
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