"Usually," says Yoshinori Tokura, director of the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science in Japan, who was also involved in the study, "only a tiny application of photoexcitation destroys everything. Here, they were able to keep the electron state that is most important for future devices – the orbital state – undamaged. This is a nice new addition to the science of orbitronics and correlated electrons."
It suggests that much as electron spin states are switched in spintronics, electron orbital states could be switched to provide a similar function. Such orbitronic devices could, in theory, say the researchers, operate 10,000 faster than spintronic devices.
Switching between two orbital states could be made possible by using short bursts of terahertz radiation, rather than the magnetic fields used today, says Shen. "Combining the two could achieve much better device performance for future applications."
The researchers say they are now working on ways to do that. For more, see " Decoupling spin-orbital correlations in a layered manganite amidst ultrafast hybridized charge-transfer band excitation ."
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