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Antiferromagnetic opto-spintronics


Control and detection of spin order in ferromagnetic materials is the main principle enabling magnetic information to be stored and read in current technologies. Antiferromagnetic materials, on the other hand, are far less utilized, despite having some appealing features. For instance, the absence of net magnetization and stray fields eliminates crosstalk between neighbouring devices, and the absence of a primary macroscopic magnetization makes spin manipulation in antiferromagnets inherently faster than in ferromagnets. However, control of spins in antiferromagnets requires exceedingly high magnetic fields, and antiferromagnetic order cannot be detected with conventional magnetometry. Here we provide an overview and illustrative examples of how electromagnetic radiation can be used for probing and modification of the magnetic order in antiferromagnets. We also discuss possible research directions that are anticipated to be among the main topics defining the future of this rapidly developing field.

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Fig. 1: Schematics of investigation of antiferromagnets by electromagnetic radiation.
Fig. 2: Visualization of antiferromagnetic domains by SHG and XMLD–PEEM.
Fig. 3: Determination of the uniaxial magnetic anisotropy direction and Néel temperature from pump-induced demagnetization in CuMnAs film.
Fig. 4: Ultrafast modification of magnetic order in FeRh and TmFeO3.
Fig. 5: Optical switching of the antiferromagnetic state in HoFeO3 and TbMnO3.
Fig. 6: Magnetization precession induced by terahertz pulses in NiO, YFeO3 and TmFeO3.
Fig. 7: Magnetization precession induced by inverse magneto-optical effects in DyFeO3, NiO and FeBO3.
Fig. 8: Vectorial control of magnetization by light in NiO and YMnO3.


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P.N. acknowledges support from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic under grant no. 14-37427G, the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic under grants LM2015087 and LNSM-LNSpin, and the EU FET Open RIA grant no. 766566. A.V.K. acknowledges the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research (NWO) and the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (project no. 14.Z50.31.0034). T.K. thanks the European Research Council for support through grant no. 681917 (TERAMAG) and the German Research Foundation through CRC/TRR 227. M.F. acknowledges support from the SNSF project 200021/147080 and by FAST, a division of the SNSF NCCR MUST.

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Němec, P., Fiebig, M., Kampfrath, T. et al. Antiferromagnetic opto-spintronics. Nature Phys 14, 229–241 (2018).

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