They did it: they trapped the light inside a magnet

Credit image: Rezlind Bushati - Light trapped inside a magnetic crystal can strongly enhance its magneto-optical interactions
Credit image: Rezlind Bushati - Light trapped inside a magnetic crystal can strongly enhance its magneto-optical interactions

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Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 17 August 2023, at 04:03 am PDT

A team led by Vinod M. Menon at the City College of New York has conducted a ground-breaking investigation that reveals a fascinating insight. By trapping light within magnetic materials, it is possible to unlock a seismic transformation in their properties. The importance of powerful optical reactions within magnets cannot be overstated. This is the foundation for developing magnetic lasers, magneto-optical memory devices, and the rapidly growing field of quantum transduction applications.

In their report published in Nature, Menon and his team reveal the exceptional characteristics of a layered magnet. Their discovery focuses on highly tethered excitons - quasi-particles that exhibit powerful optical interactions. This intrinsic quality enables the material to capture light on its own.

The team's detailed experiments have revealed the remarkable optical reactions exhibited by the material in response to magnetic phenomena. These transcend the traditional understanding of magnets, resulting in visual reactions of unprecedented magnitudes. This paradigm shift offers significant opportunities with far-reaching implications, promising to impact areas such as magnetic lasers, magneto-optical memory, and the unexplored territory of quantum transduction applications.

"Since the light bounces back and forth inside the magnet, interactions are genuinely enhanced," said the main author of the study, Dr. Florian Dirnberger.

"To give an example, when we apply an external magnetic field the near-infrared reflection of light is altered so much, the material basically changes its color. That's a pretty strong magneto-optic response."

"Ordinarily, light does not respond so strongly to magnetism," said Menon. "This is why technological applications based on magneto-optic effects often require the implementation of sensitive optical detection schemes."

"Technological applications of magnetic materials today are mostly related to magneto-electric phenomena. Given such strong interactions between magnetism and light, we can now hope to one day create magnetic lasers and may reconsider old concepts of optically controlled magnetic memory." said the study co-author Jiamin Quan.

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