Recent advances in laser technology have made possible the generation of precisely shaped strong-field pulses at terahertz frequencies. These pulses are especially useful to selectively drive collective modes of solids, for example exciting the lattice to very large amplitudes. One can consider different types of lattice excitations, including rectification and high-order harmonics. Here, I discuss the fundamentals of the coherent control of the lattice. I also show how lattice excitation can be used to switch the electronic and magnetic phases of solids. I discuss experiments in which lattice excitation drives changes in the conductivity or enhancement in superconductivity.
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