Zeitschrift für Physik B Condensed Matter

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 373–383 | Cite as

Understanding magnetic force microscopy

  • C. Schönenberger
  • S. F. Alvarado


Magnetic force microscopy is a new method for imaging ferromagnetic domains with a high lateral resolution (10 nm). In this paper we give the basic tip parameters that have to be taken into account to achieve a quantitative image interpretation. For the electrochemically otched polycrystalline iron, nickel and cobalt wires, the tip-apex domain is found to be oriented along the tip axis, because of shape anisotropy. The stray field emerging from the tip apex is comparable to the size of the tip saturation field. The effective domain lengthL determines the image formation: the force due to magnetization patterns of scales which are large compared toL follow the point-dipole approximation. In the opposite case, a single-pole model is more appropriate. While a cobalt tip can be treated as an isolated domain, for nickel and iron a net polarization in the tip wire induced by the front apex-domain has to be considered. A new analytical theory provides an overall understanding of the image formation and allows the determination of the magnetic field vector and the estimation of its magnitude from measurements.


Cobalt Image Formation Shape Anisotropy Magnetic Field Vector Magnetic Force Microscopy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. Schönenberger
    • 1
  • S. F. Alvarado
    • 1
  1. 1.IBM Research DivisionZurich Research LaboratoryRüschlikonSwitzerland

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