Direct light-induced spin transfer between different elements in a spintronic Heusler material via femtosecond laser excitation
Heusler compounds are exciting materials for future spintronics applications because they display a wide range of tunable electronic and magnetic interactions. Here, we use a femtosecond laser to directly transfer spin polarization from one element to another in a half-metallic Heusler material, Co2MnGe. This spin transfer initiates as soon as light is incident on the material, demonstrating spatial transfer of angular momentum between neighboring atomic sites on time scales \< 10 fs. Using ultrafast high harmonic pulses to simultaneously and independently probe the magnetic state of two elements during laser excitation, we find that the magnetization of Co is enhanced, while that of Mn rapidly quenches. Density functional theory calculations show that the optical excitation directly transfers spin from one magnetic sublattice to another through preferred spin-polarized excitation pathways. This direct manipulation of spins via light provides a path toward spintronic devices that can operate on few-femtosecond or faster time scales.
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