Control of magnetism has attracted interest in achieving low-power and high-speed applications such as magnetic data storage and spintronic devices. Two-dimensional magnets allow for control of magnetic properties using the electric field, electrostatic doping and strain. In two-dimensional atomically thin magnets, a non-volatile all-optical method would offer the distinct advantage of switching magnetic states without application of an external field. Here, we demonstrate such all-optical magnetization switching in the atomically thin ferromagnetic semiconductor, CrI3, triggered by circularly polarized light pulses. The magnetization switching behaviour strongly depends on the exciting photon energy and polarization, in correspondence with excitonic transitions in CrI3, indicating that the switching process is related to spin angular momentum transfer from photoexcited carriers to local magnetic moments. Such an all-optical magnetization switching should allow for further exploration of magneto-optical interactions and open up applications in high-speed and low-power spintronic devices.
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The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.
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This work was primarily supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (award no. 5722) and the Ernest S. Kuh Endowed Chair Professorship (P.Z., T.-F.C., Q.L., S.W., S.Y. and X.Z.). P.Z. thanks M. Wu and C. Hu for discussions. W.L.B.H. and J.E.G. acknowledge support from the Center for Emergent Materials, a National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, under award number DMR-2011876. Q.W. and J.Y. acknowledge support from Intel Corporation under an award titled Valleytronics Center and US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, Materials Sciences and Engineering Division under contract no. DE-AC02-05-CH11231 within the Organic-Inorganic Nano-composites Program (KC3104).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Zhang, P., Chung, TF., Li, Q. et al. All-optical switching of magnetization in atomically thin CrI3. Nat. Mater. (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-022-01354-7