Ultrafast creation of a light-induced semimetallic state in strongly excited 1T-TiSe2

Sci Adv. 2024 May 10;10(19):eadl4481. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.adl4481. Epub 2024 May 10.


Screening, a ubiquitous phenomenon associated with the shielding of electric fields by surrounding charges, has been widely adopted as a means to modify a material's properties. While most studies have relied on static changes of screening through doping or gating thus far, here we demonstrate that screening can also drive the onset of distinct quantum states on the ultrafast timescale. By using time- and angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy, we show that intense optical excitation can drive 1T-TiSe2, a prototypical charge density wave material, almost instantly from a gapped into a semimetallic state. By systematically comparing changes in band structure over time and excitation strength with theoretical calculations, we find that the appearance of this state is likely caused by a dramatic reduction of the screening length. In summary, this work showcases how optical excitation enables the screening-driven design of a nonequilibrium semimetallic phase in TiSe2, possibly providing a general pathway into highly screened phases in other strongly correlated materials.