A central goal in materials research is to develop means for controlling, inducing, and visualizing new phases of matter with unique functionalities. This requires efforts to manipulate and dynamically engineer the multi-phase landscapes that host metastable collective states and to visualize the heterogeneous dynamics that often accompanies the induction of new phases.
In this talk I will focus on two recent efforts which illustrate these approaches:
(1) I will show experimental results which demonstrate a new type of non-resonant optomechanical control in which the electric field of light stabilizes new structural phases of matter with interesting optoelectronic properties. This work defines novel types of phase-change materials with ultralow switching energies and ultrafast switching speeds and new low energy routes towards inducing non-equilibrium quantum phases of matter;
(2) I will describe novel techniques for visualizing the induction of new phases and their dynamic heterogeneity using single-shot x-ray photon correlation spectroscopy. We show that this approach defines a new way of selectively visualizing dynamics occurring at nanoscale domain wall boundaries and resolve non-equilibrium dynamics spanning nine orders of magnitude in time-scales from picoseconds to milliseconds. This work defines new possibilities for probing the non-equilibrium dynamics of disordered and heterogeneous media.