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All-optical switching on a nanometer scale

Date:
June 15, 2022
Source:
Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI)
Summary:
Ultrafast light-driven control of magnetization on the nanometer length scale is key to achieve competitive bit sizes in next generation data storage technology. Researchers have successfully demonstrated the ultrafast emergence of all-optical switching by generating a nanometer scale grating by interference of two pulses in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range.
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Ultrafast light-driven control of magnetization on the nanometer length scale is key to achieve competitive bit sizes in next generation data storage technology. Researchers at Max Born Institute in Berlin and of the large scale facility Elettra in Trieste, Italy, have successfully demonstrated the ultrafast emergence of all-optical switching by generating a nanometer scale grating by interference of two pulses in the extreme ultraviolet spectral range.

The physics of optically driven magnetization dynamics on the femtosecond time scale has become of great interest for two main reasons: first, understanding the fundamental mechanisms of nonequilibrium, ultrafast spin dynamics and, second, the potential application in the next generation of information technology with a vision to satisfy the need for both faster and more energy efficient data storage devices. All-optical switching (AOS) is one of the most interesting and promising mechanisms for this endeavor, where the magnetization state can be reversed between two directions with a single femtosecond laser pulse, serving as "0s" and "1s." While the understanding of the temporal control of AOS has progressed rapidly, knowledge on ultrafast transport phenomena on the nanoscale, important for the realization of all-optical magnetic reversal in technological applications, has remained limited due to the wavelength limitations of optical radiation. An elegant way to of overcoming these restrictions is to reduce the wavelengths to the extreme ultraviolet (XUV) spectral range in transient grating experiments. This technique is based on the interference of two XUV beams leading to a nanoscale excitation pattern and has been pioneered at the EIS-Timer beamline of the free-electron laser (FEL) FERMI in Trieste, Italy.

Now, researchers from the Max-Born-Institute, Berlin and the FEL facility FERMI have excited a transient magnetic grating (TMG) with a periodicity of ΛTMG = 87 nm in a ferrimagnetic GdFe alloy sample. The spatial evolution of the magnetization grating was probed by diffracting a time-delayed, third XUV pulse tuned to the Gd N-edge at a wavelength of 8.3 nm (150 eV). As AOS exhibits a strongly non-linear response to the excitation, one expects characteristic symmetry changes of the evolving magnetic grating distinct from the initial sinusoidal excitation pattern. This information is directly encoded in the diffraction pattern: in case of a linear magnetization response to the excitation and no AOS, a sinusoidal TMG is induced and the second diffraction order is suppressed. However, if AOS occurs, the grating shape changes, now allowing for a pronounced second order diffraction intensity. In other words, the researchers identified the intensity ratio between the second and first order (R21) as a fingerprint observable for AOS in diffraction experiments.

In future transient grating experiments with significantly smaller periodicities down to <20 nm, ultrafast lateral transport processes are expected to equilibrate the excitation gradients within a few picoseconds and will therefore define the fundamental spatial limits of AOS.


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Materials provided by Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Kelvin Yao, Felix Steinbach, Martin Borchert, Daniel Schick, Dieter Engel, Filippo Bencivenga, Riccardo Mincigrucci, Laura Foglia, Emanuele Pedersoli, Dario De Angelis, Matteo Pancaldi, Björn Wehinger, Flavio Capotondi, Claudio Masciovecchio, Stefan Eisebitt, Clemens von Korff Schmising. All-Optical Switching on the Nanometer Scale Excited and Probed with Femtosecond Extreme Ultraviolet Pulses. Nano Letters, 2022; 22 (11): 4452 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.2c01060

Cite This Page:

Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI). "All-optical switching on a nanometer scale." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 June 2022. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220615102902.htm>.
Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI). (2022, June 15). All-optical switching on a nanometer scale. ScienceDaily. Retrieved February 25, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220615102902.htm
Max Born Institute for Nonlinear Optics and Short Pulse Spectroscopy (MBI). "All-optical switching on a nanometer scale." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2022/06/220615102902.htm (accessed February 25, 2024).

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