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Femtosecond phononic coupling to both spins and charges in a room temperature antiferromagnetic semiconductor

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posted on 2023-01-12, 14:20 authored by D. Bossini, S. dal Conte, M. Terschanski, G. Springholz, A. Bonanni, K. Deltenre, F. Anders, G. S. Uhrig, G. Cerullo, M. Cinchetti
Spintronics is postulated on the possibility to employ the magnetic degree of freedom of electrons for computation and couple it to charges. In this view, the combination of the high-frequency of spin manipulations offered by antiferromagnets, with the wide tunability of the electronic properties peculiar of semiconductors provides a promising and intriguing platform. Here we explore this scenario in $\alpha$-MnTe, which is a semiconductor antiferromagnetically ordered at room temperature. Relying on a Raman mechanism and femtosecond laser pulses, we drive degenerate modes of coherent optical phonons, which modulate the chemical bonds involved in the super-exchange interaction. The spectrally-resolved measurements of the transient reflectivity reveal a coherent modulation of the band-gap at the frequency of 5.3 THz. The detection of the rotation of the polarisation, typically associated with magneto-optical effects, shows coherent and incoherent contributions. Modelling how the ionic motion induced by the phonons affects the exchange interaction in the material, we calculate the photoinduced THz spin dynamics: the results predict both a coherent and incoherent response, the latter of which is consistent with the experimental observation. Our work demonstrates that the same phonon modes modulate both the charge and magnetic degree of freedom, suggesting the resonant pumping of phonons as a viable way to link spin and charge dynamics even in nonlinear regimes.

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