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Ultrafast Spin Crossover in a Room-Temperature Ferrimagnet: Element-Specific Spin Dynamics in Photoexcited Cobalt Ferrite

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journal contribution
posted on 14.05.2020, 16:33 by Stephen Londo, Somnath Biswas, Jakub Husek, Igor V. Pinchuk, Michael J. Newburger, Alexandra Boyadzhiev, Amanda H. Trout, David W. McComb, Roland Kawakami, L. Robert Baker
Transition metal complexes capable of photoinduced spin crossover have been widely investigated because of their potential to enable ultrafast optical control of information processing. However, any real application of photoswitchable molecules requires that spin crossover be paired with additional functionality such as long-range magnetic order. Important advances combining these functions are notably reported for a number of bimetallic Prussian Blue analogues; however, to date, PBA-based magnetic photoswitches can only operate below 150 K due to loss of magnetic order. In contrast, cobalt ferrite is a ferrimagnetic semiconductor with a Curie temperature of 790 K and extremely favorable magnetic properties by comparison to state-of-the-art PBAs. The mixed valence electronic structure of cobalt ferrite is reminiscent of cobalt–iron PBA, which is a well-known photoswitch. To investigate the potential for photoswitching in this material, we employ transient XUV spectroscopy to probe charge and spin dynamics with element-specific resolution on the femtosecond time scale. Results show that 400 nm light excites a metal-to-metal charge transfer transition, which drives the crossover of high-spin Co2+ to low-spin Co3+ with a time constant of 405 ± 29 fs and an internal quantum efficiency of unity. This result establishes the existence of efficient photoswitching in a new class of robust ferrimagnetic spinel ferrites.