Ultrafast Spin Manipulation at THz frequencies
The demands for ever increasing speed of information storage and data processing have triggered an intense search for finding the ultimately fast ways to manipulate spins in a magnetic medium. In this context, the use of femtosecond light pulses – the fastest man-made event - with photon energies ranging from X-rays (as used for instance at the HZB femto-slicing facility) to THz spectral range proved to be an indispensable tool in ultrafast spin and magnetization dynamics studies.
In a paper in Nature Nanotechnology, HZB-scientist Ilie Radu and his colleagues from Fritz-Haber-Institut Berlin, Uppsala, Göttingen and Forschungzentrum Jülich demonstrate a simple but very powerful way of manipulating the spins at unprecedented speeds within the so far unexplored THz range (1THz=1012 Hz). They use a femtosecond laser pulse to photo-excite the spins from a magnetic material to a non-magnetic one that is chosen to either trap or release the electrons carrying the spins. By this method they are able to generate ultrashort spin currents with tailor-made shapes and durations, which are detected using an ‘ultrafast amperemeter’ (based on the Inverse Spin Hall Effect) that converts the spin flow into a terahertz electromagnetic pulse.
These findings will possibly allow us to develop and design novel material with tailor-made characteristics, which might boost the magnetic recording rates of the magnetic bits to unprecedented speeds at THz frequencies.
The work is published in:T. Kampfrath et al. „Terahertz spin current pulses controlled by magnetic heterostructures”, Nature Nanotechnology 2013, doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NNANO.2013.43.