Femtosecond optical reflectivity measurements of lattice-mediated spin repulsions in photoexcited LaCoO3 thin films
Journal article, 2014
We present results on the temperature dependence of ultrafast electron and lattice dynamics, measured with pump-probe transient reflectivity experiments, of an epitaxially grown LaCoO3 thin film under tensile strain. Probing spin-polarized transitions into the antibonding e(g) band provides a measure of the low-spin fraction, both as a function of temperature and time after photoexcitation. It is observed that femtosecond laser pulses destabilize the constant low-spin fraction (similar to 63%-64%) in equilibrium into a thermally activated state, driven by a subpicosecond change in spin gap Delta. From the time evolution of the low-spin fraction, it is possible to disentangle the thermal and lattice contributions to the spin state. A lattice mediated spin repulsion, identified as the governing factor determining the equilibrium spin state in thin-film LaCoO3, is observed. These results suggests that time-resolved spectroscopy is a sensitive probe of the spin state in LaCoO3 thin films, with the potential to bring forward quantitative insight into the complicated interplay between structure and spin state in LaCoO3.