Layer-resolved microscopy of magnetic domains in multi-layered systems
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Photoelectron emission microscopy in connection with magnetic circular dichroism in soft X-ray absorption can be used for the microscopic imaging of magnetic domains in layered thin film structures consisting of several magnetic layers. Due to the element-selectivity of the method, the different magnetic layers in such a structure can be imaged separately, provided that they contain different elements. This has been applied for the investigation of Co/Cu/Ni trilayers, epitaxially grown on Cu (001). The magnetic coupling between the Co and Ni layers can be directly visualized from comparing layer-resolved magnetic domain images of both layers. As a consequence of the competition between the anisotropy energies of the two magnetic layers and the magnetic coupling energy, spin-reorientation transitions between collinear and non-collinear magnetic configurations are observed. Apart from this globally observable magnetic interlayer coupling a micromagnetic coupling mechanism is also evident from the layer-resolved domain images. It is caused by magnetostatic interaction of local stray fields from domain walls.
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