General principles for the non-equilibrium relaxation of populations in quantum materials

Kemper AF, Abdurazakov O, Freericks JK
Phys. Rev. X 8, 041009 (2018)


We examine the problem of how excited populations of electrons relax after they have been excited by a pump. We include three of the most important relaxation processes: (i) impurity scattering; (ii) Coulomb scattering; and (iii) electron-phonon scattering. The relaxation of an excited population of electrons is one of the most fundamental processes measured in pump/probe experiments, but it is often not interpreted correctly. We show how to resolve four common and incorrect misconceptions about non-equilibrium relaxation that are pervasive in the field. The resolution of these misconceptions shows that non-equilibrium relaxation is more complex than previously thought, but it yields to recently developed theoretical methods in non-equilibrium theory. We focus much of the discussion on implications of these results for experiment.