This year the discovery of femtosecond demagnetization by laser pulses is 20 years old. For the first time, this milestone work by Bigot and coworkers gave insight directly into the time scales of microscopic interactions that connect the spin and electron system. While intense discussions in the field were fueled by the complexity of the processes in the past, it now became evident that it is a puzzle of many different parts. Rather than providing an overview that has been presented in previous reviews on ultrafast processes in ferromagnets, this perspective will show that with our current depth of knowledge the first applications are developed: THz spintronics and all-optical spin manipulation are becoming more and more feasible. The aim of this perspective is to point out where we can connect the different puzzle pieces of understanding gathered over 20 years to develop novel applications. Based on many observations in a large number of experiments. Differences in the theoretical models arise from the localized and delocalized nature of ferromagnetism. Transport effects are intrinsically non-local in spintronic devices and at interfaces. We review the need for multiscale modeling to address the processes starting from electronic excitation of the spin system on the picometer length scale and sub-femtosecond time scale, to spin wave generation, and towards the modeling of ultrafast phase transitions that altogether determine the response time of the ferromagnetic system. Today, our current understanding gives rise to the first usage of ultrafast spin physics for ultrafast magnetism control: THz spintronic devices. This makes the field of ultrafast spin-dynamics an emerging topic open for many researchers right now.
Journal of Applied Physics: Perspective: Ultrafast magnetism and THz spintronics
This Invited Perspective is part of the Special Topic “Cutting Edge Physics in Functional Materials” published in J. Appl. Phys. 120, 14 (2016).
Jakob Walowski1 and Markus Münzenberg1