Switching ferromagnetic spins by an ultrafast laser pulse: Emergence of giant optical spin-orbit torque

G. P. Zhang, Y. H. Bai, Thomas F. George
2016 Europhysics letters  
Faster magnetic recording technology is indispensable to massive data storage and big data sciences. All-optical spin switching offers a possible solution, but at present it is limited to a handful of expensive and complex rare-earth ferrimagnets. The spin switching in more abundant ferromagnets may significantly expand the scope of all-optical spin switching. Here by studying 40,000 ferromagnetic spins, we show that it is the optical spin-orbit torque that determines the course of spin
more » ... g in both ferromagnets and ferrimagnets. Spin switching occurs only if the effective spin angular momentum of each constituent in an alloy exceeds a critical value. Because of the strong exchange coupling, the spin switches much faster in ferromagnets than weakly-coupled ferrimagnets. This establishes a paradigm for all-optical spin switching. The resultant magnetic field (65 T) is so big that it will significantly reduce high current in spintronics, thus representing the beginning of photospintronics.
doi:10.1209/0295-5075/115/57003 fatcat:6bjtjudtrfgtfj4sxinot3qbx4