• Windsor, Y.W.; Lee, S.E.; Zahn, D.; Borisov, V.; Thonig, D.; Kliemt, K.; Ernst, A.; Schüßler-Langeheine, C.; Pontius, N.; Staub, U.; Krellner, C.; Vyalikh, D.V.; Eriksson, O.; Rettig, L.: Exchange scaling of ultrafast angular momentum transfer in 4f antiferromagnets. Nature Materials 21 (2022), p. 514-517

Open Access Version

Ultrafast manipulation of magnetism bears great potential for future information technologies. While demagnetization in ferromagnets is governed by the dissipation of angular momentum1,2,3, materials with multiple spin sublattices, for example antiferromagnets, can allow direct angular momentum transfer between opposing spins, promising faster functionality. In lanthanides, 4f magnetic exchange is mediated indirectly through the conduction electrons4 (the Ruderman–Kittel–Kasuya–Yosida (RKKY) interaction), and the effect of such conditions on direct spin transfer processes is largely unexplored. Here, we investigate ultrafast magnetization dynamics in 4f antiferromagnets and systematically vary the 4f occupation, thereby altering the magnitude of the RKKY coupling energy. By combining time-resolved soft X-ray diffraction with ab initio calculations, we find that the rate of direct transfer between opposing moments is directly determined by this coupling. Given the high sensitivity of RKKY to the conduction electrons, our results offer a useful approach for fine tuning the speed of magnetic devices.