Advanced Magneto-optical Materials and Devices

Open Access
Kang, Shaoying
Graduate Program:
Electrical Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy
Document Type:
Date of Defense:
April 24, 2007
Committee Members:
  • Shizhuo Yin, Committee Chair
  • James Kenneth Breakall, Committee Member
  • Zhiwen Liu, Committee Member
  • Karl Martin Reichard, Committee Member
  • Qi Li, Committee Member
  • Garnet
  • Faraday Effect
  • Ultrafast switch
  • Magneto-optical
  • Nanoparticles
  • Iron Borate
The magneto-optical materials with both high Faraday rotation and high transmittance capabilities are greatly desired in high speed switches, isolators, and visible imaging systems. In this thesis work, new magneto-optical materials that possess both high Faraday effect and high transmittance in the visible range of the spectrum were studied and synthesized. The work done includes material synthesis, material properties testing, optical and magneto-optical properties testing, switching speed testing, and theoretical investigations. Specifically, garnet films, iron borate crystals and nanoparticles, and garnet particle films were successfully synthesized and switches made of these new materials were designed and tested at the wavelength of 532 nm, which is at the shorter wavelength of visible spectrum and is also among to the most sensitive range of the normal human eye at night. New Bismuth iron gallium garnet thin-films (Bi3Fe4Ga1O12, BIGG) have been successfully deposited on gadolinium gallium garnet substrates with a pulsed laser deposition technique in our lab. X-ray diffraction analyses have proven that the BIGG films are of good epitaxial quality with a lattice constant close to 12.61+-0.01Ǻ. The bandwidth of BIGG’s transmittance spectrum has been extended and its left edge has been shifted about 50nm towards the shorter wavelengths relative to those of Bi3Fe5O12 (BIG) films. The BIGG film is more transparent than a BIG film although BIGG’s Faraday rotation angle is slightly less than that of a BIG film. The figure of merit of the BIGG garnet film has reached 16.5 degree, which is about 1.8 times that of a typical BIG film. Currently, the switches using BIGG films were tested and a 2.4 ns response time had been reached with a ~1 mm circular aperture at the wavelength of 532 nm. Iron Borate (FeBO3) is another material that is far superior in terms of the transmittance in the visible spectrum at room temperature to most garnet materials. In this study, a flux sintering technique was used to grow highly perfect iron borate platelet-like single crystals. Our test showed that the green platelets we obtained have a (001) crystallization orientation. Our switching testing experiments showed that the speed of the switch using FeBO3 platelets has reached 1.2ns with a ~1 mm circular aperture at the wavelength of 532nm. The switching speed is high, but the Faraday rotation could not reach more than 5 degree because of the natural birefringence of the material. The FeBO3 is one of the orthoferrites with a large natural birefringence for the light propagated along the magnetization direction. The effect of birefringence on Faraday rotation reduced the maximum obtainable rotation. In order to eliminate the birefringence and further improve the transmittance, a high energy ball-milling technique was used to synthesize FeBO3 nanoparticles. Our numerical simulation shows the nanoparticles could eliminate the birefringence, and concurrently keep the intrinsic Faraday rotation. After milling and centrifuging, the FeBO3 nanoparticles’ sizes reached down to 30nm so far. The nanoparticles are to be hot-pressed and re-formed into an orientation-randomized new crystal. It is expected that the nanoparticles approach will overcome the birefringence, improve the transmittance, and concurrently keep the same switching speed. Further tests need to be conducted on these FeBO3 nanoparticles. New Bi1.8Y1.2Fe4Ga1O12 (BYIGG) nanoparticles were fabricated with coprecipitation and annealing processes. The advantages of these techniques are high yield and relatively low cost. When substituting Ga by Fe, BYIGG nanoparticles improved the transmittance compared to Bi1.8Y1.2Fe5O12 (BYIG) nanoparticles. The BYIGG nanoparticles are more yellowish, while the BYIG nanoparticles are more reddish. With high energy ball-milling and spin-coating techniques, new BYIGG films were coated on a Corning 1737 glass substrates. Our test showed that the Faraday rotation angle was about 2.5 degree for a 500 micron thick BYIGG film, and the transmittance at the wavelength of 532nm was about 1%. The figure of merit was found to be 2.2 degree, which is among the reported ones from 0.2 to 9.6 degree. It was observed that contamination from ball-milling process decreased the transmittance. Further experiments need to be conducted, and one more challenge is to eliminate the contamination. The switches made of the above materials are tested for speed response. As we know, if the circuit response time is larger than the films/crystals’ response times, the speed tested is limited by the driving circuit board. For this reason, a RF circuit and a miniature coil were specially and successfully designed to generate a magnetic field about 400 Oe and a circuit rise time less than 1 ns. In the theoretical study part of this dissertation, we proposed an new technique and successfully simulated an optimized aperiodic multilayer structure to enhance both the Faraday effect and the transmittance. Bi-substituted yttrium–iron–garnet films and dielectric SiO2 films were used in our simulation at the wavelength of 532nm. One-dimensional magneto-optical aperiodic multilayer structures were theoretically studied and optimized by means of a genetic algorithm. For one structure we optimized, its Faraday rotation per magnetic material thickness has been enhanced 13.6 times compared to a single magnetic layer, from 2.06 degree per micron to 27.98 degree per micron. For another optimized structure, the total Faraday rotation angle and figure of merit are 3.7 and 2.5 times larger than those of a single magnetic layer, respectively. All these results prove the effectiveness of this newly developed optimization technique.