The generation and control of surface acoustic waves (SAWs) in a magnetic material are objects of an intense research effort focused on magnetoelastic properties, with fruitful ramifications in spin-wave-based quantum logic and magnonics. We implement a transient grating setup to optically generate SAWs also seeding coherent spin waves via magnetoelastic coupling in ferromagnetic media. In this work we report on SAW-driven ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) experiments performed on polycrystalline Ni thin films in combination with time-resolved Faraday polarimetry, which allows extraction of the value of the effective magnetization and of the Gilbert damping. The results are in full agreement with measurements on the very same samples from standard FMR. Higher-order effects due to parametric modulation of the magnetization dynamics, such as down-conversion, up-conversion, and frequency mixing, are observed, testifying the high sensitivity of this technique.
Materials and heterostructures that exhibit coupling between elastic and magnetic degrees of freedom are of both fundamental and technological interest. In particular, they have great potential for novel energy-efficient spintronic devices because acoustic waves can generate coherent and long-living spin waves through inverse magnetostriction, which consists in variations in the magnetization due to lattice deformations. As optical methods are versatile, non-invasive and contactless, an all-optical approach has been implemented and applied to study magnetoelastic coupling in a ferromagnetic film on a glass substrate.
The present thesis work was performed at the NFFA-SPRINT facility of IOM-CNR in the Fermi@Elettra hall at Trieste, where I actively contributed to the realization and characterization of an all new experimental setup which is able to combine transient grating spectroscopy with a time-resolved Faraday polarimetry.