Magneto-optical materials have widespread applications in communication and optical devices. Besides existing applications such as optical diodes, untapped potential applications could be accessed should magneto-optical properties be improved such that smaller magnetic fields can be employed. Here we present an efficient method for fabricating oxide materials that possess excellent optical and magnetic properties-they are transparent to visible light yet have high magnetic susceptibility. Combined, these properties produce large Faraday rotations; the measured Verdet constant is -300 rad T-1 m -1 at 632.8 nm, a high value for a thick, optically transparent material. Because this Verdet constant is more than twice that of the state of the art material, these nanocrystalline oxides produce polarized light rotations with less than half the applied magnetic field necessary. They are made by densifying rare earth nanocrystalline powder into dense, large-sized bodies using an electric current activated technique (sometimes known as spark plasma sintering). The processing temperature is optimized in order to achieve sufficient density without causing excessive phase changes that would destroy light transparency. This process produces materials quickly (20 min), which, combined with high magneto-optical properties, promises less expensive, smaller, more portable magneto-optical devices.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)