Time-resolved light-induced insulator-metal transition in niobium dioxide and vanadium dioxide thin films

Melissa R. Beebe, College of William and Mary
J. Michael Klopf
Yuhan Wang
Salinporn Kittiwatanakul
Jiwei Lu
Stuart A. Wolf
R. Alejandra Lukaszew, College of William and Mary


While vanadium dioxide (VO2) is one of the most extensively studied highly correlated materials, there are intriguing similarities and differences worth exploring in another highly correlated oxide, niobium dioxide (NbO2). Both materials exhibit a thermally-induced first-order insulator-metal transition at a material-dependent critical temperature, which is considerably higher in NbO2 than in VO2 - approximately 1080 K and 340 K in bulk, respectively. This transition, evidenced by up to 6 orders of magnitude change in DC and optical conductivities, can also be induced in VO2 via photo-doping on a sub-picosecond timescale. Here, we present the first ultrafast pump-probe studies on the optically-induced transition of NbO2 thin films and the comparison with similar VO2 films. It is observed that NbO2 films transition faster and exhibit significantly faster recovery time than VO2 films of similar thickness and microstructure, showcasing that NbO2 is a promising material for next generation high-speed optoelectronic devices. (C) 2016 Optical Society of America