Optical manipulation of the charge-density-wave state in RbV3Sb5

Yuqing Xing, Seokjin Bae, Ethan Ritz, Fan Yang, Turan Birol, Andrea N. Capa Salinas, Brenden R. Ortiz, Stephen D. Wilson, Ziqiang Wang, Rafael M Fernandes, Vidya Madhavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Broken time-reversal symmetry in the absence of spin order indicates the presence of unusual phases such as orbital magnetism and loop currents1–4. The recently discovered kagome superconductors AV3Sb5 (where A is K, Rb or Cs)5,6 display an exotic charge-density-wave (CDW) state and have emerged as a strong candidate for materials hosting a loop current phase. The idea that the CDW breaks time-reversal symmetry7–14 is, however, being intensely debated due to conflicting experimental data15–17. Here we use laser-coupled scanning tunnelling microscopy to study RbV3Sb5. By applying linearly polarized light along high-symmetry directions, we show that the relative intensities of the CDW peaks can be reversibly switched, implying a substantial electro-striction response, indicative of strong nonlinear electron–phonon coupling. A similar CDW intensity switching is observed with perpendicular magnetic fields, which implies an unusual piezo-magnetic response that, in turn, requires time-reversal symmetry breaking. We show that the simplest CDW that satisfies these constraints is an out-of-phase combination of bond charge order and loop currents that we dub a congruent CDW flux phase. Our laser scanning tunnelling microscopy data open the door to the possibility of dynamic optical control of complex quantum phenomenon in correlated materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

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© The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Limited 2024.

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  • Journal Article


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