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Tracking down antiferromagnets

27 September 2021

Although antiferromagnets are magnetically ordered, outwardly their magnetization is erased so completely that even their discoverer, Nobel Prize winner Louis Néel could not imagine any application for this class of materials. 

Today, however, antiferromagnets are strong candidates for faster and more energy-efficient data processing and storage. On the way to achieving this goal, magnetic scattering in the soft X-ray range – a combination of spectroscopy and scattering techniques – has allowed, among other things, direct insights into the magnetic order of antiferromagnets and thus made an important contribution to the field.

Nevertheless, until now such experiments could only be performed at large-scale scientific facilities, such as synchrotrons and free-electron lasers, which can provide sufficient light in the soft X-ray range. At the Max Born Institute in Berlin, it has now been possible for the first time to study an antiferromagnetic sample using magnetic scattering at a laser-driven laboratory source. Thomas Jansen and Dr. Daniel Bürgler from PGI-6 designed and synthesized the artificial antiferromagnet with the necessary magnetic properties for the experiment. The work was published in the journal Optica and was also chosen as the cover image.

Original publication:

Laser-driven resonant magnetic soft-x-ray scattering for probing ultrafast antiferromagnetic and structural dynamics;
D. Schick et al.;
Optica 8, 1237-1242 (2021), DOI: 10.1364/OPTICA.435522

More information:

Press release issued by the Max Born Institute on 21.09.2021