Spatiotemporal Evolution of Coherent Elastic Strain Waves in a Single MoS2 Flake

Alyssa J. McKenna, Jeffrey K. Eliason, David J. Flannigan

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48 Scopus citations


We use bright-field imaging in an ultrafast electron microscope to spatiotemporally map the evolution of photoexcited coherent strain waves in a single, micrometer-size flake of MoS2. Following in situ femtosecond photoexcitation, we observe individual wave trains emerge from discrete nanoscale morphological features and propagate in-plane along specific wave vectors at approximately the speed of sound (7 nm/ps). Over the span of several hundred picoseconds, the 50 GHz wave trains (20 ps periods) are observed to undergo phonon-phonon scattering and wave-train interference, resulting in a transition to larger-scale, incoherent structural dynamics. This incoherent motion further evolves into coherent nanomechanical oscillations over a few nanoseconds, ultimately leading to megahertz, whole-flake multimode resonances having microsecond lifetimes. These results provide insight into the low-frequency structural response of MoS2 to relatively coherent optical photoexcitation by elucidating the origin and the evolution of high-velocity, gigahertz strain waves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3952-3958
Number of pages7
JournalNano letters
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 14 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Chemical Society.


  • Ultrafast electron microscopy
  • acoustic phonons
  • structural dynamics
  • transition metal dichalcogenides


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