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Engineered materials for all-optical helicity-dependent magnetic switching

The possibility of manipulating magnetic systems without applied magnetic fields have attracted growing attention over the past fifteen years. The low-power manipulation of the magnetization, preferably at ultrashort timescales, has become a fundamental challenge with implications for future magnetic information memory and storage technologies. Here we explore the optical manipulation of the magnetization in engineered magnetic materials. We demonstrate that all-optical helicity-dependent switching (AO-HDS) can be observed not only in selected rare earth–transition metal (RE–TM) alloy films but also in a much broader variety of materials, including RE–TM alloys, multilayers and heterostructures. We further show that RE-free CoIr-based synthetic ferrimagnetic heterostructures designed to mimic the magnetic properties of RE–TM alloys also exhibit AO-HDS. These results challenge present theories of AO-HDS and provide a pathway to engineering materials for future applications based on all-optical control of magnetic order.

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