Light Stimulation Like Magnetic Field

Using light at various frequencies in the mid infrared it is a well known fact that electrons in crystals can be excited. Phonons present in the crystal can also begin oscillating with larger and larger amplitudes. These effects combined have been shown to cause metal insulator transitions; cause a loss of magnetic order akin to the effect of high temperature; and alter the critical temperature with stimulation of a materials superconductivity.

A recent paper has described photon excitation of the rare earth crystal erbium iron oxide (ErFeO3) but adding a new twist, almost literally. Instead of targeting a single mode with stimulating light they excited more that one mode at the same time. This caused the crystal atoms to not just displace from their normal location but also to gain some rotation as well. The results are similar to those that would be obtained if an external magnetic field was applied to the material instead. This research gives us a greater ability to control the rotation of lattices within a material and possibly understand crystal field theory and the electron wave form better.

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