Recent observations of switching of magnetic domains in ferromagnetic metals by circularly polarized light, so-called all-optical helicity dependent switching, has renewed interest in the physics that governs the interactions between the angular momentum of photons and the magnetic order parameter of materials. Here we use time-resolved-vectorial measurements of magnetization dynamics of thin layers of Fe, Ni and Co driven by picosecond duration pulses of circularly polarized light. We decompose the torques that drive the magnetization into field-like and spin-transfer components that we attribute to the inverse Faraday effect and optical spin-transfer torque, respectively. The inverse Faraday effect is approximately the same in Fe, Ni and Co, but the optical spin-transfer torque is strongly enhanced by adding a Pt capping layer. Our work provides quantitative data for testing theories of light-material interactions in metallic ferromagnets and multilayers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)