Phenomena that occur in nonequilibrium states created by photoexcitation differ qualitatively from those that occur at thermal equilibrium, and various physical theories developed for thermal equilibrium states can hardly be applied to such phenomena. Recently it has been realized that understanding phenomena in nonequilibrium states in solids is important for photoenergy usage and ultrafast computing. Consequently, much effort has been devoted to revealing such phenomena by developing various ultrafast observation techniques and theories applicable to nonequilibrium states. This Account describes our recent studies of diverse photoinduced dynamics in a strongly correlated organic solid using various ultrafast techniques. Solids in which the electronic behavior is affected by Coulomb interactions between electrons are designated as strongly correlated materials and are known to exhibit unique physical properties even at thermal equilibrium. Among them, many organic charge-transfer (CT) complexes have low dimensionality and flexibility in addition to strong correlations; thus, their physical properties change sensitively in response to changes in pressure or electric field. Photoexcitation is also expected to drastically change their physical properties and would be useful for ultrafast photoswitching devices. However, in nonequilibrium states, the complicated dynamics due to these characteristics prevents us from understanding and using these materials for photonic devices. The CT complex (EDO-TTF)2PF6 (EDO-TTF = 4,5-ethylenedioxytetrathiafulvalene) exhibits unique photoinduced dynamics due to strong electron -electron and electron-phonon interactions. We have performed detailed studies of the dynamics of this complex using transient electronic spectroscopy at the 10 and 100 fs time scales. These studies include transient vibrational spectroscopy, which is sensitive to the charges and structures of constituent molecules, and transient electron diffraction, which provides direct information on the crystal structure. Photoexcitation of the charge-ordered low-temperature phase of (EDO-TTF)2PF6 creates a new photoinduced phase over 40 fs via the Franck-Condon state, in which electrons and vibrations are coherently and strongly coupled. This new photoinduced phase is assigned to an insulator-like state in which the charge order differs from that of the initial state. In the photoinduced phase, translations of component molecules proceed before the rearrangements of intramolecular conformations. Subsequently, the charge order and structure gradually approach those of the high-temperature phase over 100 ps. This unusual two-step photoinduced phase transition presumably originates from steric effects due to the bent EDO-TTF as well as strong electron-lattice interactions. (Chemical Equation Presented).
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