X-ray pair distribution function (pdf) and U L3 extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) and neutron pdf measurements that give identical results for UO2 show U(VI)-oxo moieties with x rays for mixed valence U4O9 and U3O7, in contrast to the neutron data that indicate only U(V) sites with no short U-O bonds as well as other differences. In addition, although the EXAFS spectra of UO2 are essentially identical at 30, 100, and 200 K, those of the UO2+x compounds exhibit different nearest-neighbor U-O distributions at each temperature. Further tunneling polaron-type behavior is found in the broadening of the features of the O K-edge x-ray absorption spectra (XAS) of the UO2+x compounds. Raman spectra of powders also show a large increase in scattering cross section with increasing O content that would originate in a change in the electronic structure that increases the overall polarizability. The XAS and Raman also show that U4O9 does not behave as a linear combination of the UO2 and U3O7 fluorite endpoints. The properties induced by mobile rather than static charged quasiparticles were explored by optical pumping of the metal-to-metal charge-transfer transition. The temperature dependence of 4.71 eV pump-1.57 eV probe reflectivity on UO2 that initially populates the U 6d-dominated portion of the upper Hubbard band (UHB) shows a sharp 28-μsec lifetime peak at 25 K that may be associated with the fluctuations of its antiferromagnetic transition. Pumping at 3.14 eV into the 5f-dominated portion of the UHB shows an analogous 2.8-μsec peak but also a plateau bracketing this peak that ends in a cusp at 50-60 K and an abrupt change in the hardening rate of a novel 12-15 GHz phonon that is the signature for the quasiparticle quantum phase. The different results for the different excitation channels indicate a highly specific nonthermal relaxation mechanism. These results constitute the first observation of a distinct phase of photoinduced quasiparticles that is sufficiently coupled to the lattice to undergo a gap-opening transition. When the intragap state is probed with a terahertz time domain spectroscopy (TTDS) measurement 33 psec after a 3.14 excitation pulse, it shows increased absorption in the 0.5-1.1 THz range with a decrease in temperature from ∼30 to 10 K instead of the expected decrease, a result consistent with the presence of a condensate. These results are too extreme to originate in the dynamical, nonadiabatic, coupled charge-transfer-phonon/tunneling polaron scenario previously used for doped Mott-Hubbard insulators with intermediate electron-phonon coupling and therefore indicate novel physics. One possibility that could cause all of these behaviors is that a collective, dynamical, charge transfer-coupled Peierls distortion involving the 2 U(V) â† U(IV)+U(VI)-oxo excitation occurs coherently over an entire domain to cause the atoms in this domain to condense into a system with Bose-Einstein or Bose-Einstein-Hubbard properties.
|Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
|Published - Sep 23 2013
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics