Femtosecond laser driven precessing magnetic gratings†
Manipulation and detection of spins at the nanoscale is of considerable contemporary interest as it may not only facilitate a description of fundamental physical processes but also plays a critical role in the development of spintronic devices. Here, we describe the application of a novel combination of transient grating excitation with Lorentz ultrafast electron microscopy to control and detect magnetization dynamics with combined nanometer and picosecond resolutions. Excitation of Ni80Fe20 thin film samples results in the formation of transient coherently precessing magnetic gratings. From the time-resolved results, we extract detailed real space information of the magnetic precession, including local magnetization, precession frequency, and relevant decay factors. The Lorentz contrast of the dynamics is sensitive to the alignment of the in-plane components of the applied field. The experimental results are rationalized by a model considering local demagnetization and the phase of the precessing magnetic moments. We envision that this technique can be extended to the study of spin waves and dynamic behavior in ferrimagnetic and antiferromagnetic systems.