Emmanuelle Jal, Víctor López-Flores, Niko Pontius, Tom Ferté, Nicolas Bergeard, Christine Boeglin, Boris Vodungbo, Jan Lüning, and Nicolas Jaouen
Physical Review B 95, 184422 (2017)
The mechanism underlying femtosecond laser-pulse-induced ultrafast magnetization dynamics remains elusive, despite two decades of intense research on this phenomenon. Most experiments focused so far on characterizing magnetization and charge carrier dynamics, while the first direct measurements of structural dynamics during ultrafast demagnetization were reported only very recently. We here present our investigation of the infrared laser-pulse-induced ultrafast demagnetization process in a thin Ni film, which characterizes simultaneously magnetization and structural dynamics. This is achieved by employing femtosecond time- resolved x-ray resonant magnetic reflectivity (tr-XRMR) as the probe technique. The experimental results reveal unambiguously that the subpicosecond magnetization quenching is accompanied by strong changes in nonmagnetic x-ray reflectivity. These changes vary with reflection angle, and changes up to 30% have been observed. By modeling the x-ray reflectivity of the investigated thin film, we can reproduce these changes by a variation of the apparent Ni layer thickness of up to 1%. Extending these simulations to larger incidence angles, we show that tr-XRMR can be employed to discriminate experimentally between currently discussed models describing the ultrafast demagnetization phenomenon.