Article in the Physical Review Letters journal


As a part of our ongoing research with twisted light (light that carries orbital angular momentum) conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Nova Gorica (G. De Ninno, ARRS projects J1-8134 and J1-3012) and the Institute of Physics at the University of Halle (J. Waetzel and J. Berakdar), we published an article in the Physical Review Letters showing that light can magnetize matter on a nanometer scale. With a short and strongly focused XUV light pulse from the FERMI free electron laser, a large portion of helium atoms in the gas target was transferred from the ground state to a singly excited state, and from there to a ‘rotating’ Rydberg state with a simultaneous pulse of twisted IR light. The analysis of dichroism in the photoelectron signal showed that the atomic current loops of the rotating Rydberg wave packets generate a magnetic field that is localized along the axis of the twisted light beam and is stable on the time scale determined by the lifetime of the Rydberg state.

The figure from the article is featured on the cover of the latest issue of the PRL, and the article is highlighted in Synopsis in Physics. Špela Krušič, Andrej Mihelič and Matjaž Žitnik, researchers from the F2 department, participated in the design, preparation and implementation of the experiment and in the final stages of preparing the manuscript for publication.

link to the article