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As an updated version of the ultrafast pump-probe laser technique, the time-resolved magneto-optical Kerr effect (TR-MOKE) methodology enables the detection of magnetization dynamics with superb temporal (sub-picosecond) and spatial (diffraction-limited beam spot) resolutions. It is a powerful tool to characterize material properties and to reveal the rich physics of magnetization dynamics in magnetic thin films, which serve as the essential building blocks for spintronic and magnetic recording devices. In this spotlight article, we will highlight the recent advances in the development of TR-MOKE metrology and its applications for capturing the magnetization dynamics in technologically important spintronic materials. We cover several representative examples based on research activities carried out at the University of Minnesota (UMN), including studies of Gilbert damping, spin-strain coupling, and interlayer exchange coupling of perpendicular magnetic materials. A brief discussion will be also presented, which highlights several other emerging research topics that are potentially enabled by this metrology to form a more comprehensive picture of its applications for emerging materials and technologies.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The work described in this spotlight has been supported by the following funding agencies: National Science Foundation (NSF) Award No. 1804840, the University of Minnesota MRSEC (under the NSF Award DMR-2011401), the Advanced Storage Research Consortium, and the Minnesota Futures Award. D.L. acknowledges the support from the university’s 2019-2020 Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship. Portions of the work related to sample fabrication and characterization were conducted in the Minnesota Nano Center, supported by the NSF through the National Nano Coordinated Infrastructure Network under Award Number ECCS-2025124.
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