The coexistence of ferroelectricity and metallicity seems paradoxical, since the itinerant electrons in metals should screen the long-range dipole interactions necessary for dipole ordering. The recent discovery of the polar metal LiOsO3 was therefore surprising [as discussed earlier in Y. Shi et al., Nat. Mater. 2013, 12, 1024]. It is thought that the coordination preferences of the Li play a key role in stabilizing the LiOsO3 polar metal phase, but an investigation from the combined viewpoints of core-state specificity and symmetry has yet to be done. Here, we apply the novel technique of extreme ultraviolet second harmonic generation (XUV-SHG) and find a sensitivity to the broken inversion symmetry in the polar metal phase of LiOsO3 with an enhanced feature above the Li K-edge that reflects the degree of Li atom displacement as corroborated by density functional theory calculations. These results pave the way for time-resolved probing of symmetry-breaking structural phase transitions on femtosecond time scales with element specificity.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanical Engineering