All-optical control of ferromagnetic thin films and nanostructures

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Science  12 Sep 2014:
Vol. 345, Issue 6202, pp. 1337-1340
DOI: 10.1126/science.1253493

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All-optical magnetic state switching

Magneto-optical memory storage media, such as hard drives, use magnetic fields to change the magnetization of memory bits, but the process is slow. Light can often reveal information about the magnetization state of a sample, such as its field direction. Lambert et al. show that under the right circumstances, light can also switch the magnetization state of a thin ferromagnetic film. Using light pulses instead of magnetic fields led to ultrafast data memory and data storage.

Science, this issue p. 1337


The interplay of light and magnetism allowed light to be used as a probe of magnetic materials. Now the focus has shifted to use polarized light to alter or manipulate magnetism. Here, we demonstrate optical control of ferromagnetic materials ranging from magnetic thin films to multilayers and even granular films being explored for ultra-high-density magnetic recording. Our finding shows that optical control of magnetic materials is a much more general phenomenon than previously assumed and may have a major impact on data memory and storage industries through the integration of optical control of ferromagnetic bits.

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