One sample consisted essentially of a single thin layer of ferromagnetic nickel. By contrast, a second sample of this same nickel material was coated with a non-magnetic layer of gold.
Only a mere 30 nanometers (10-9 m) thick, the gold layer swallowed up the lion's share of the laser light so that barely any light ended up reaching the nickel layer. In spite of this, the nickel layer's magnetization rapidly dissipated shortly after the laser pulse entered each sample. However, in the case of the gold-coated sample, the researchers recorded a split-second delay. The observations were based on measurements obtained using circularly polarized femtosecond x-ray pulses at BESSY II, Berlin's own electron storage ring, with the help of the femtoslicing beamline.
"This allowed us to demonstrate experimentally that during this process, it isn't the light itself that is responsible for the ultrafast demagnetization but rather hot electrons, which are generated by the laser pulse," explains Andrea Eschenlohr. Excited electrons are able to rapidly move across short distances - like the ultra-thin gold layer. In the process, they also deliver their magnetic moment (their "spin") to the ferromagnetic nickel layer, prompting the breakdown of the latter's magnetic order. "Actually, what we had hoped to see is how we might be able to influence the spin using the laser pulse," explains Dr. Christian Stamm, who heads the experiment. "The fact that we ended up being able to directly observe how these spins migrate was a complete surprise to everyone."
Laser pulses are thus one possibility to generate "spin currents" where the spin is transferred in place of an electric charge. This observation is relevant for spintronics research where scientists design new devices from magnetic layered systems, which perform calculations based on spins rather than electrons, enabling them to very quickly process and store information while at the same time saving energy.
Dr. Eschenlohr concluded her doctoral work at HZB, in the context of which she generated the results described above, in late 2012. As of January of this year, Dr. Eschenlohr is a scientific associate at University of Duisburg-Essen.
The paper "Ultrafast spin transport as key to femtosecond demagnetization" will be published on 27. January 2013, 18:00 London time (GMT), in Nature Materials with doi: 10.1038/nmat3546.
Dr. Andrea Eschenlohr | EurekAlert!
An innovative high-performance material: biofibers made from green lacewing silk
20.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Polymerforschung IAP
Treated carbon pulls radioactive elements from water
20.01.2017 | Rice University
An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...
Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...
Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.
While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...
Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales
Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...
Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.
As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...
19.01.2017 | Event News
10.01.2017 | Event News
09.01.2017 | Event News
20.01.2017 | Awards Funding
20.01.2017 | Materials Sciences
20.01.2017 | Life Sciences