Nature Communications 7, 12902 (2016)
Capturing the dynamic electronic band structure of a correlated material presents a powerful capability for uncovering the complex couplings between the electronic and structural degrees of freedom. When combined with ultrafast laser excitation, new phases of matter can result, since far-from-equilibrium excited states are instantaneously populated. Here, we elucidate a general relation between ultrafast non-equilibrium electron dynamics and the size of the characteristic energy gap in a correlated electron material. We show that carrier multiplication via impact ionization can be one of the most important processes in a gapped material, and that the speed of carrier multiplication critically depends on the size of the energy gap. In the case of the charge-density wave material 1T-TiSe2, our data indicate that carrier multiplication and gap dynamics mutually amplify each other, which explains—on a microscopic level—the extremely fast response of this material to ultrafast optical excitation.