Laser-induced ultrafast demagnetization in the presence of a nanoscale magnetic domain network

Nat Commun. 2012;3:999. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2007.


Femtosecond magnetization phenomena have been challenging our understanding for over a decade. Most experiments have relied on infrared femtosecond lasers, limiting the spatial resolution to a few micrometres. With the advent of femtosecond X-ray sources, nanometric resolution can now be reached, which matches key length scales in femtomagnetism such as the travelling length of excited 'hot' electrons on a femtosecond timescale. Here we study laser-induced ultrafast demagnetization in [Co/Pd](30) multilayer films, which, for the first time, achieves a spatial resolution better than 100 nm by using femtosecond soft X-ray pulses. This allows us to follow the femtosecond demagnetization process in a magnetic system consisting of alternating nanometric domains of opposite magnetization. No modification of the magnetic structure is observed, but, in comparison with uniformly magnetized systems of similar composition, we find a significantly faster demagnetization time. We argue that this may be caused by direct transfer of spin angular momentum between neighbouring domains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't