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Scientists trap light inside a magnet
Light trapped inside a magnetic crystal can strongly enhance its magneto-optical interactions.
Scientists trap light inside a magnet
by Brad Bartz
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Aug 21, 2023

Researchers at the City College of New York (CCNY) have achieved an unprecedented feat: they've trapped light within a magnet, paving the way for groundbreaking advancements in magnetic technologies and potentially revolutionizing the field of magneto-optics.

Led by Dr. Vinod M. Menon, the research group has explored the capabilities of a novel layered magnetic material. This particular material is distinctive in that it plays host to strongly bound excitons - quasiparticles known for their robust optical interactions. This capability allows the material to trap light all on its own. Strikingly, when exposed to magnetic phenomena, the optical responses of this material dwarf those of conventional magnets by several orders of magnitude.

Offering insights into the behavior of light within this unique magnetic environment, Dr. Florian Dirnberger, the study's lead author, remarked, "Since the light bounces back and forth inside the magnet, interactions are genuinely enhanced." To paint a clearer picture of the implications of these findings, Dirnberger continued, "When we apply an external magnetic field, the near-infrared reflection of light is so profoundly altered that the material virtually shifts its color. This represents a significant magneto-optic response."

The reaction of light to magnetism, as it stands, is not typically so pronounced. Highlighting the anomaly of this discovery, Dr. Menon noted, "Ordinarily, light does not respond so strongly to magnetism. Hence, for magneto-optic-based technological applications to function, they often necessitate the integration of sensitive optical detection schemes."

But what do these developments mean for the world outside the laboratory? Jiamin Quan, a co-author of the study, weighed in on the potential real-world applications: "The majority of today's technological uses of magnetic materials revolve around magneto-electric phenomena. But considering the intense interactions we've witnessed between magnetism and light, it opens up the exciting possibility of developing magnetic lasers. Moreover, this may prompt a reevaluation of earlier concepts surrounding optically controlled magnetic memory."

Rezlind Bushati, a graduate student part of the Menon research group, also played a pivotal role in the hands-on experimental work that led to these promising findings.

The groundbreaking study can be accessed in the esteemed journal, Nature.

Research Report:Magneto-optics in a van der Waals magnet tuned by self-hybridized polaritons

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