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An effective magnetic field from optically driven phonons

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineLetterpeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>24/10/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Nature Physics
Number of pages5
Pages (from-to)132-136
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Light fields at terahertz and mid-infrared frequencies allow for the direct excitation of collective modes in condensed matter, which can be driven to large amplitudes. For example, excitation of the crystal lattice has been shown to stimulate insulator–metal transitions, melt magnetic order or enhance superconductivity. Here, we generalize these ideas and explore the simultaneous excitation of more than one lattice mode, which are driven with controlled relative phases. This nonlinear mode mixing drives rotations as well as displacements of the crystal-field atoms, mimicking the application of a magnetic field and resulting in the excitation of spin precession in the rare-earth orthoferrite ErFeO3. Coherent control of lattice rotations may become applicable to other interesting problems in materials research—for example, as a way to affect the topology of electronic phases.