Large-Amplitude Spin Dynamics Driven by a THz Pulse in Resonance with an Electromagnon

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Science  21 Mar 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6177, pp. 1333-1336
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242862

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Ultrafast Manipulation

Multiferroic materials commonly show both magnetism and ferroelectricity, such that the electric field can be used to manipulate the magnetic order, and vice versa. Kubacka et al. (p. 1333, published online 6 March) used a strong terahertz electromagnetic pulse in resonance with an electromagnon—an excitation based on both electric and magnetic ordering—to control the spin dynamics of the multiferroic TbMnO3 on a sub-picosecond time scale and induce the rotation of the spin-cycloid plane of the material.


Multiferroics have attracted strong interest for potential applications where electric fields control magnetic order. The ultimate speed of control via magnetoelectric coupling, however, remains largely unexplored. Here, we report an experiment in which we drove spin dynamics in multiferroic TbMnO3 with an intense few-cycle terahertz (THz) light pulse tuned to resonance with an electromagnon, an electric-dipole active spin excitation. We observed the resulting spin motion using time-resolved resonant soft x-ray diffraction. Our results show that it is possible to directly manipulate atomic-scale magnetic structures with the electric field of light on a sub-picosecond time scale.

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