Magnetic anisotropy and domain patterns in electrodeposited cobalt nanowires

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The magnetic anisotropy and domain structure of electrodeposited cylindrical Co nanowires with length of 10 or 20 μm and diameters ranging from 30 to 450 nm are studied by means of magnetization and magnetic torque measurements, as well as magnetic force microscopy. Experimental results reveal that crystal anisotropy either concurs with shape anisotropy in maintaining the Co magnetization aligned along the wire or favours an orientation of the magnetization perpendicular to the wire, hence competing with shape anisotropy, depending on whether the diameter of the wires is smaller or larger than a critical diameter of 50 nm. This change of crystal anisotropy, originating in changes in the crystallographic structure of Co, is naturally found to strongly modify the zero (or small) field magnetic domain structure in the nanowires. Except for nanowires with parallel-to-wire crystal anisotropy (very small diameters) where single-domain behaviour may occur, the formation of magnetic domains is required to explain the experimental observations. The geometrical restriction imposed on the magnetization by the small lateral size of the wires proves to play an important role in the domain structures formed.

Received 14 September 2000