Directly Observing Squeezed Phonon States with Femtosecond X-Ray Diffraction


Squeezed states are quantum states of a harmonic oscillator in which the variance of two conjugate variables each oscillate out of phase. Ultrafast optical excitation of crystals can create squeezed phonon states, where the variance of the atomic displacements oscillates due to a sudden change in the interatomic bonding strength. With femtosecond x-ray diffraction we measure squeezing oscillations in bismuth and conclude that they are consistent with a model in which electronic excitation softens all phonon modes by a constant scaling factor.

Physical Review Letters