This thesis completes my work as doctoral student of the Scuola di Dottorato in Fisica, Astrofisica e Fisica Applicata at the Universit`a degli Studi di Milano, that has been carried out since November 2019 at the Istituto Officina dei Materiali of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (IOM-CNR) in the premises of the Elettra - Sincrotrone Trieste and FERMI@Elettra infrastructures and in the framework of the NFFA facility.
My experimental activity employed complementary spectroscopy and polarimetry techniques oriented to address the characterisation of electronic and spin properties of systems with decreasing dimensionality. This programme has been conducted by exploiting state-of-the-art infrastructures to generate visible, UV and EUV ultrashort pulses (tabletop lasers and HHG at NFFA-SPRINT laboratory) and soft X-ray synchrotron light (at Elettra, Diamond and ESRF synchrotron light sources).
I used photoemission as the main tool in my investigation, supplementing my results with absorption spectroscopy. I focused on three materials, Fe(001)-p(1x1)O/MgO, EuSn2P2 and VI3, of high interest in modern and next-generation magnetic devices.
In the three systems I studied the electronic band structure to identify key features hinting at the bound electrons behaviour. I investigated the properties of the magnetically ordered phases and found evidence of the reduced dimensionality in the emergence of atypical spin ordering and the increasingly manifest electron correlation phenomena.
The information retained by band electrons is critical to access the spin polarisation of the bands and to give insight into the effects of spatial confinement on the spin degree of freedom.
Space and mirror charge effects in time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy can be modeled to obtain relevant information on the recombination dynamics of charge carriers. We successfully extracted from these phenomena the reneutralization characteristic time of positive charges generated by photoexcitation in CeO2-based films. For the above-band-gap excitation, a large fraction of positive carriers with a lifetime that exceeds 100 ps are generated. Otherwise, the sub-band-gap excitation induces the formation of a significantly smaller fraction of charges with lifetimes of tens of picoseconds, ascribed to the excitation of defect sites or to multiphoton absorption. When the oxide is combined with Ag nanoparticles, the sub-band-gap excitation of localized surface plasmon resonances leads to reneutralization times longer than 300 ps. This was interpreted by considering the electronic unbalance at the surface of the nanoparticles generated by the injection of electrons, via localized surface plasmon resonance (LSPR) decay, into CeO2. This study represents an example of how to exploit the space charge effect in gaining access to the surface carrier dynamics in CeO2 within the picosecond range of time, which is fundamental to describe the photocatalytic processes.
We unravel the interplay of topological properties and the layered (anti)ferromagnetic ordering in EuSn2P2, using spin and chemical selective electron and X-ray spectroscopies supported by first-principle calculations. We reveal the presence of in-plane long-range ferromagnetic order triggering topological invariants and resulting in the multiple protection of topological Dirac states. We provide clear evidence that layer-dependent spin-momentum locking coexists with ferromagnetism in this material, a cohabitation that promotes EuSn2P2 as a prime candidate axion insulator for topological antiferromagnetic spintronics applications.
We investigated the relationship between ferromagnetism and metallicity in strained La0.67Ca0.33MnO3 films grown on lattice-mismatched NdGaO3 (001) by means of spectroscopic techniques directly sensitive to the ferromagnetic state, to the band structure, and to the chemical state of the atoms. In this system, the ferromagnetic metallic (FMM) phase spatially coexists with an insulating one in most of the phase diagram. First, the observation of an almost 100% spin polarization of the photoelectrons at the Fermi level in the fundamental state provides direct evidence of the half-metallicity of the FMM phase, a result that has been previously observed through direct probing of the valence band only on unstrained, phase-homogeneous La0.67Sr0.33MnO3. Second, the spin polarization results to be correlated with the occupancy at the Fermi level for all the investigated temperature regimes. These outcomes show that the half-metallic behavior predicted by a double-exchange model persists even in phase-separated manganites. Moreover, the correlation between metallicity and ferromagnetic alignment is confirmed by X-ray magnetic circular dichroism, a more bulk-sensitive technique, allowing one to explain transport properties in terms of the conduction through aligned FMM domains.
The femtosecond evolution of the electronic temperature of laser-excited gold nanoparticles is measured, by means of ultrafast time-resolved photoemission spectroscopy induced by extreme-ultraviolet radiation pulses. The temperature of the electron gas is deduced by recording and fitting high-resolution photo emission spectra around the Fermi edge of gold nanoparticles providing a direct, unambiguous picture of the ultrafast electron-gas dynamics. These results will be instrumental to the refinement of existing models of femtosecond processes in laterally-confined and bulk condensed-matter systems, and for understanding more deeply the role of hot electrons in technological applications.
Here, we report on a novel narrowband High Harmonic Generation (HHG) light source designed for ultrafast photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) on solids. Notably, at 16.9 eV photon energy, the harmonics bandwidth equals 19 meV. This result has been obtained by seeding the HHG process with 230 fs pulses at 515 nm. The ultimate energy resolution achieved on a polycrystalline Au sample at 40 K is ∼22 meV at 16.9 eV. These parameters set a new benchmark for narrowband HHG sources and have been obtained by varying the repetition rate up to 200 kHz and, consequently, mitigating the space charge, operating with ≈3×107 electrons/s and ≈5×108 photons/s. By comparing the harmonics bandwidth and the ultimate energy resolution with a pulse duration of ∼105 fs (as retrieved from time-resolved experiments on bismuth selenide), we demonstrate a new route for ultrafast space-charge-free PES experiments on solids close to transform-limit conditions.
La misura della polarizzazione in spin di un fascio di elettroni fotoemessi da una superficie ferromagnetica permette di studiare in modo diretto la struttura elettronica determinata dall’interazione di scambio e quindi il momento magnetico di spin del sistema, caratterizzandone il comportamento magnetico. Da una parte lo sviluppo del campo della spintronica, dall’altra la richiesta sempre crescente di strumenti e dispositivi di immagazzinamento e trattamento dati ad alte prestazioni, marcano la necessità di esplorare le configurazioni degli stati elettronici e le loro eccitazioni.