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The strange implications of electron-electron scattering in graphene

Helm, M.; König-Otto, J. C.; Mittendorff, M.; Pashkin, A.; Schneider, H.; Winnerl, S.; Wendler, F.; Winzer, T.; Malic, E.; Knorr, A.

Electron-electron scattering in graphene gives rise to some unexpected behavior in the electron dynamics, as observed by pump-probe measurements.
When excited with a near-infrared femtosecond laser pulse, the pump-probe signal depends on the angle between the linear polarization of the pump and the probe pulse, which is due to preferential excitation of electrons perpendicular to the laser electric field. This indicates an anisotropic distribution function in momentum space that is preserved by electron-electron scattering, since it mainly occurs collinearly along the Dirac cone. Only after 150 fs the distribution function is rendered isotropic through optical-phonon scattering. The effect is even more pronounced when exciting at small photon energies (88 meV), below the optical-phonon energy: In this case the anisotropic distribution function survives for as long as 5 ps, when it is finally thermalized by non-collinear Coulomb scattering. These results challenge the common view of ultrafast thermalization by electron-electron scattering.
When a magnetic field is applied to graphene, Landau levels are formed that can be selectively excited by circular-polarized radiation. In a pump-probe experiment, exciting and probing all possible transitions between the n=-1, n=0 and n=+1 Landau levels in slightly n-type graphene, we observe an unexpected sign reversal of the n=0 →1 probe signal when pumping the -1→0 transition. This directly reflects the fact that the n=0 Landau level is depleted by electron-electron Auger-type scattering, even though it is optically pumped at the same time.
Both effects can be quantitatively reproduced by a microscopic calculation based on the graphene Bloch equations, and shed new light on the possibility of infrared and THz devices based on hot carriers in graphene.

Keywords: graphene; pump-probe; free-electron laser; Landau levels

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Publ.-Id: 23533