Michael Först

  • Senior Staff Scientist


Condensed Matter Department,
Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter, CFEL
Bldg. 99, Rm. 02.071
Luruper Chaussee 149
22761 Hamburg, Germany

Phone: +49-(0)40-8998-88105
Email: michael.foerst@mpsd.mpg.de

Short bio

Michael has joined the MPSD at CFEL as a senior scientist in 2009. He uses carrier-envelope-phase stable, mid-infrared pulses of MV/cm field strength to control lattice-driven phase transitions in correlated electron systems. He has recently discovered the field of nonlinear phononics which offers new perspectives for selective lattice modifications impossible with electronic excitations in the near-infrared and visible wavelength range. Michael is also leading time-resolved X-ray diffraction activities at free electron lasers. Femtosecond hard X-ray diffraction is used to monitor nonlinear lattice dynamics in the correlated systems after vibrational excitation, while resonant soft X-ray diffraction is exploited to disclose the dynamics of the electronic and magnetic order parameters.

Michael received his Ph.D. degree from RWTH Aachen University in 2001. His work focused on coherent electronic Bloch oscillations and their coupling to optical phonons in semiconductor superlattices. Beyond, he investigated coherent phonons in chalcogenide phase change materials, which are widely used in rewritable optical data storage media and phase change RAM devices. In the following years, taking staff positions as research associate and 'chief engineer' at the Institute of Semiconductor Electronics at RWTH Aachen University, Michael’s research was strongly application driven. Particularly, he initiated activities in the fields of optical coherence tomography for biomedical imaging and nonlinear optics in silicon-on-insulator nanophotonic devices for ultrafast all-optical switching.

Research Interests


Selected publications

Invited Review Articles:

Probing dynamics in quantum materials with femtosecond X-rays
Michele Buzzi, Michael Först, Roman Mankowsky, and Andrea Cavalleri
Nature Reviews Materials, 3pages 299311 (2018)


Mode-Selective Control of the Crystal Lattice
M. Först, R. Mankowsky, A. Cavalleri
Accounts of Chemical Research 48, 380 (2015)    
THz control in correlated electron solids: sources and applications
M. Först, M.C. Hoffmann, A. Dienst, S. Kaiser, M. Rini, R.I. Tobey, M. Gensch, C. Manzoni, and A. Cavalleri
in Terahertz Spectroscopy: Theory and Applications, edited by K. Peiponen, A. Zeitler, and M. Kuwata-Gonokami, Springer Series in Optical Sciences Volume 171, Springer Verlag, ISBN 9783642295638, pp. (2012)
Coherent phonons in bulk and low-dimensional semiconductors
M. Först and T. Dekorsy
in Coherent Vibrational Dynamics, edited by S. De Silvestri, G. Cerullo, and G. Lanzano, Practical Spectroscopy Series Volume 36, CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group), ISBN 1-5744-4650-9, pp. 130-172 (2008)
Advanced optoelectronics in III-V semiconductor compounds
M. Först, M. Nagel, M. Awad, M. Wächter, T. Dekorsy, and H. Kurz
phys. stat. sol. (b) 244, 2971 (2007)
Ultrafast nonlinear all-optical processes in silicon-on-insulator waveguides
R. Dekker, N. Usechak, M. Först, and A. Driessen
J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 40, R249 (2007)


Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles:

Probing the Interatomic Potential of Solids with Strong-Field Nonlinear Phononics
A. von Hoegen, R. Mankowsky, M. Fechner, M. Först, A. Cavalleri
Nature, 555, 79–82 (2018)  Full Publication
An effective magnetic field from optically driven phonons
T. F. Nova, A. Cartella, A. Cantaluppi, M. Först, D. Bossini, R. V. Mikhaylovskiy, A. V. Kimel, R. Merlin, A. Cavalleri
Nature Physics, 13, 2, 132–136 (2017, Adv. Online 2016)  
→ Press release  
Ultrafast energy- and momentum-resolved dynamics of magnetic correlations in the photo-doped Mott insulator Sr2IrO4
M. P. M. Dean, Y. Cao, X. Liu, S.Wall, D. Zhu, R. Mankowsky, V. Thampy, X. M. Chen, J. G. Vale, D. Casa, Jungho Kim, A. H. Said, P. Juhas, R. Alonso-Mori, J. M. Glownia, A. Robert, J. Robinson, M. Sikorski, S. Song, M. Kozina, H. Lemke, L. Patthey, S. Owada, T. Katayama, M. Yabashi, Y. Tanaka, T. Togashi, J. Liu, C. Rayan Serrao, B. J. Kim, L. Huber, C.-L. Chang, D. F. McMorrow, M. Först and J. P. Hill
Nature Materials,15, 601–605 (2016)  
Spatially resolved ultrafast magnetic dynamics launched at a complex-oxide hetero-interface
M. Först, A.D. Caviglia, R. Scherwitzl, R. Mankowsky, P. Zubko, V. Khanna, H. Bromberger, S.B. Wilkins, Y.-D. Chuang, W.S. Lee, W.F. Schlotter, J.J. Turner, G.L. Dakovski, M.P. Minitti, J. Robinson, S.R. Clark, D. Jaksch, J.-M. Triscone, J.P. Hill, S.S. Dhesi, A. Cavalleri
Nature Materials,14, 883-888 (2015)  
 ⇒ see also News & Views by V. Scagnoli and U. Staub Press releases
THz-Frequency Modulation of the Hubbard U in an Organic Mott Insulator
R. Singla, G. Cotugno, S. Kaiser, M. Först, M. Mitrano, H. Y. Liu, A. Cartella, C. Manzoni, H. Okamoto, T. Hasegawa, S. R. Clark, D. Jaksch, and A. Cavalleri
Physical Review Letters 115, 187401 (2015)  
Nonlinear lattice dynamics as a basis for enhanced superconductivity in YBa2Cu3O6.5
R. Mankowsky, A. Subedi, M. Först, S.O. Mariager, M. Chollet, H. Lemke, J. Robinson, J. Glownia, M. Minitti, A. Frano, M. Fechner, N. A. Spaldin, T. Loew, B. Keimer, A. Georges, A. Cavalleri
Nature 516 , 71–73 (2014) ⇒ MPG Press release    ⇒ SLAC Press release
Melting of Charge Stripes in Vibrationally Driven La1.875Ba0.125CuO4: Assessing the Respective Roles of Electronic and Lattice Order in Frustrated Superconductors
M. Först, R. I. Tobey, H. Bromberger, S. B. Wilkins, V. Khanna, A. D. Caviglia, Y.-D. Chuang, W. S. Lee, W. F. Schlotter, J. J. Turner, M. P. Minitti, O. Krupin, Z. J. Xu, J. S. Wen, G. D. Gu, S. S. Dhesi, A. Cavalleri, and J. P. Hill
Physical Review Letters, 112, 157002 (2014)  
⇒ Press releases  
Femtosecond x rays link melting of charge-density wave correlations and light-enhanced coherent transport in YBa2Cu3O6.6
M. Först, A. Frano, S. Kaiser, R. Mankowsky, C. R. Hunt, J. J. Turner, G. L. Dakovski, M. P. Minitti, J. Robinson, T. Loew, M. Le Tacon, B. Keimer, J. P. Hill, A. Cavalleri, and S. S. Dhesi
Physical Review B, 90, 90, 184514 (2014)  
Real-Time Manifestation of Strongly Coupled Spin and Charge Order Parameters in Stripe-Ordered La1:75Sr0:25NiO4 Nickelate Crystals Using Time-Resolved Resonant X-Ray Diffraction
Y. D. Chuang, W. S. Lee, Y. F. Kung, A. P. Sorini, B. Moritz, R. G. Moore, L. Patthey, M. Trigo, D. H. Lu, P. S. Kirchmann, M. Yi, O. Krupin, M. Langner, Y. Zhu, S.Y. Zhou, D. A. Reis, N. Huse, J. S. Robinson, R. A. Kaindl, R.W. Schoenlein, S. L. Johnson, M. Först, D. Doering, P. Denes, W. F. Schlotter, J. J. Turner, T. Sasagawa, Z. Hussain, Z. X. Shen, and T. P. Devereaux
Physical Review Letters, 110, 127404 (2013)  
Photoinduced melting of magnetic order in the correlated electron insulator NdNiO3
A. D. Caviglia, M. Först, R. Scherwitzl, V. Khanna, H. Bromberger, R. Mankowsky, R. Singla, Y.-D. Chuang, W. S. Lee, O. Krupin, W. F. Schlotter, J. J. Turner, G. L. Dakovski, M. P. Minitti, J. Robinson, V. Scagnoli, S. B.Wilkins, S. A. Cavill, M. Gibert, S. Gariglio, P. Zubko, J.-M. Triscone, J. P. Hill, S. S. Dhesi, and A. Cavalleri

Physical Review B, 88, 220401(R) (2013)

Photoinduced Melting of the Orbital Order in La0.5Sr1.5MnO4 with 4-femtosecond laser pulses
R. Singla, A. Simoncig, M. Först, D. Prabhakaran, A.L. Cavalieri, and A. Cavalleri
Physical Review B, 88, 075107 (2013)  
Phase fluctuations and the absence of topological defects in a photo-excited charge-ordered nickelate
W.S. Lee, Y.D. Chuang, R.G. Moore, Y. Zhu, L. Patthey, M. Trigo, D.H. Lu, P.S. Kirchmann, O. Krupin, M. Yi, M. Langner, N. Huse, J.S. Robinson, Y. Chen, S.Y. Zhou, G. Coslovich, B. Huber, D.A. Reis, R.A. Kaindl, R.W. Schoenlein, D. Doering, P. Denes, W.F. Schlotter, J.J. Turner, S.L. Johnson, M. Först, T. Sasagawa, Y.F. Kung, A.P. Sorini, A.F. Kemper, B. Moritz, T.P. Devereaux, D.-H. Lee, Z.X. Shen & Z. Hussain
Nature Communications, 3, 1837 (2012)  
Ultrafast Strain Engineering in Complex Oxide Heterostructures
A. D. Caviglia, R. Scherwitzl, P. Popovich, W. Hu, H. Bromberger, R. Singla, M. Mitrano, M. C. Hoffmann, S. Kaiser, P. Zubko, S. Gariglio, J.-M. Triscone, M. Först, and A. Cavalleri
Physical Review Letters, 108, 136801 (2012)  
    ⇒ APS - Viewpoint in Physics: Ultrafast Phase Control in Oxide Thin Films
    ⇒ Research Highlights in Nature Materials: Beaten to Action
Nonlinear phononics as a new ultrafast route to lattice control
M. Först, C. Manzoni, S. Kaiser, Y. Tomioka, Y. Tokura, R. Merlin and A. Cavalleri
Nature Physics, 7, 854–856 (2011).  
→ more   
Photoinduced Melting of Antiferromagnetic Order in La0.5Sr1.5MnO4 Measured Using Ultrafast Resonant Soft X-Ray Diffraction
H. Ehrke, R. I. Tobey, S. Wall, S. A. Cavill, M. Först, V. Khanna, Th. Garl, N. Stojanovic, D. Prabhakaran, A. T. Boothroyd, M. Gensch, A. Mirone, P. Reutler, A. Revcolevschi, S. S. Dhesi and A. Cavalleri
PRL 106, 217401 (2011)  
Driving magnetic order in a manganite by ultrafast lattice excitation
M. Först, R. I. Tobey, S. Wall, H. Bromberger, V. Khanna, A. L. Cavalieri, Y.-D. Chuang, W. S. Lee, R. Moore, W. F. Schlotter, J. J. Turner, O. Krupin, M. Trigo, H. Zheng, J. F. Mitchell, S. S. Dhesi, J. P. Hill, and A. Cavalleri
Physical Review B 84, 241104(R) (2011)