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Phys Rev Lett. 2007 Jul 27;99(4):047601. Epub 2007 Jul 25.

All-optical magnetic recording with circularly polarized light.

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Institute for Molecules and Materials, Radboud University Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, 6525 ED Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


We experimentally demonstrate that the magnetization can be reversed in a reproducible manner by a single 40 femtosecond circularly polarized laser pulse, without any applied magnetic field. This optically induced ultrafast magnetization reversal previously believed impossible is the combined result of femtosecond laser heating of the magnetic system to just below the Curie point and circularly polarized light simultaneously acting as a magnetic field. The direction of this opto-magnetic switching is determined only by the helicity of light. This finding reveals an ultrafast and efficient pathway for writing magnetic bits at record-breaking speeds.

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