The observed magnetization switching by circularly polarized ultrafast laser pulses has been attributed to the inverse Faraday effect in which the induced non-equilibrium orbital momentum serves as an effective magnetic field via spin-orbit coupling for magnetization rotation and switching. We critically examine this scenario by explicitly calculating the magnitude of the induced orbital momentum for generic itinerant band. We show that the calculated induced angular momentum is not large enough for reversing the magnetization by one laser pulse with the order of 100 femtosecond duration. Instead, we propose that each laser pulse is capable to expand a reverse domain a few nano-meters and it takes multiple pulses to complete the magnetization reversal process via domain wall motion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics