Here we report on the ultrafast magnetization dynamics of Gd(0001) which we investigated as a function of equilibrium temperature by employing the femtosecond time-resolved magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) and modeling by the Landau-Lifshitz-Bloch equation in combination with the two-temperature model. Based on the observed temperature dependent transient MOKE signals we separate the magnetization dynamics into two regimes at delays of (i) few picoseconds and (ii) several 100 femtoseconds. In the picosecond regime the demagnetization time determined from the experiment increases with temperature from 0.8 ps at 50 K to 1.5 ps at 280 K. A successful description of this observation was achieved by considering the dynamics of 4f spin system coupled to 5d conduction electrons within two coupling mechanisms: (a) through electronic scattering and (b) spin-flip scattering mediated by phonons. We conclude that at temperatures below the Debye temperature a hot electron-mediated process describes the experimentally found demagnetization times of 0.8 ps well. At higher temperatures phonon-mediated processes have to be included to explain the two times longer demagnetization time. In the second regime at time delays of few 100 fs we find an increase in the MOKE rotation and ellipticity at 50 K at delays before demagnetization sets in. Above 50 K the transient changes in rotation and ellipticity are of opposite sign. We explain this behavior by competing magnetic and non-magnetic contributions in the transient MOKE signals at these delays directly after optical excitation when excited phonons do not yet facilitate angular momentum transfer to the lattice.
The original publication is available by link DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.85.184407