The understanding of how the sub-nanoscale exchange interaction evolves in macroscale correlations and ordered phases of matter, such as magnetism and superconductivity, requires to bridging the quantum and classical worlds. This monumental challenge has so far only been achieved for systems close to their thermodynamical equilibrium. Here we follow in real time the ultrafast dynamics of the macroscale magnetic order parameter in the Heisenberg antiferromagnet KNiF 3 triggered by the impulsive optical generation of spin excitations with the shortest possible nanometre wavelength and femtosecond period. Our magneto-optical pump-probe experiments also demonstrate the coherent manipulation of the phase and amplitude of these femtosecond nanomagnons, whose frequencies are defined by the exchange energy. These findings open up opportunities for fundamental research on the role of short-wavelength spin excitations in magnetism and strongly correlated materials; they also suggest that nanospintronics and nanomagnonics can employ coherently controllable spin waves with frequencies in the 20 THz domain.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)