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We show evidence that the competition between the antiferromagnetic metallic phase and the charge- and orbital-ordered insulating phase at the reentrant phase boundary of a layered manganite, LaSr2Mn2O7, can be manipulated using ultrafast optical excitation. The time-dependent evolution of the Jahn-Teller superlattice reflection, the indicator of the formation of charge and orbital order, was measured at different laser fluences. The laser-induced change in the Jahn-Teller reflection intensity shows a reversal of sign between earlier (∼10 ns) and later (∼150 ns) times during the relaxation of the sample. This is consistent with a physics picture whereby the laser excitation modulates the local competition between the metallic and the insulating phases.
A series of laser pump, x-ray probe experiments show that above band gap photoexcitation can generate a large out-of-plane strain in multiferroic BiFeO3 thin films. The strain decays in a time scale that is the same as the photo-induced carriers measured in an optical transient absorption spectroscopy experiment. We attribute the strain to the piezoelectric effect due to screening of the depolarization field by laser induced carriers. A strong film thickness dependence of strain and carrier relaxation is also observed, revealing the role of the carrier transport in determining the structural and carrier dynamics in complex oxide thin films.
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