Hole-Burning Spectroscopy and Relaxation Dynamics of Amorphous Solids at Low Temperatures

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Science  07 Aug 1987:
Vol. 237, Issue 4815, pp. 618-625
DOI: 10.1126/science.237.4815.618


The magnitude and temperature dependence of most of the properties of amorphous solids are anomalous at very low temperatures (≲1 Kelvin). Phonon-assisted tunneling of a distribution of glassy bistable configurations, or two-level systems, can account for these anomalies. A unified understanding of the low-temperature properties is required for an understanding of the glassy state. Persistent nonphotochemical hole burning of impurity optical transitions allows a glass state to be produced that is thermally inaccessible to the preburn state, and that allows the probing of tunneling dynamics on time scales that range between picoseconds and days. These data combined with recently obtained distribution functions for the two-level systems offer new insights into the tunneling dynamics.