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Coherent helicity-dependent spin-phonon oscillations in the ferromagnetic van der Waals crystal CrI3...

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Nature Communications
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The discovery of two-dimensional systems hosting intrinsic magnetic order represents a seminal addition to the rich landscape of van der Waals materials. CrI3 is an archetypal example, where the interdependence of structure and magnetism, along with strong light-matter interactions, provides a new platform to explore the optical control of magnetic and vibrational degrees of freedom at the nanoscale. However, the nature of magneto-structural coupling on its intrinsic ultrafast timescale remains a crucial open question. Here, we probe magnetic and vibrational dynamics in bulk CrI3 using ultrafast optical spectroscopy, revealing spin-flip scattering-driven demagnetization and strong transient exchange-mediated interactions between lattice vibrations and spin oscillations. The latter yields a coherent spin-coupled phonon mode that is highly sensitive to the driving pulse’s helicity in the magnetically ordered phase. Our results elucidate the nature of ultrafast spin-lattice coupling in CrI3 and highlight its potential for applications requiring high-speed control of magnetism at the nanoscale.