Research Papers in Physics and Astronomy


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Published in Ultramicroscopy 109:8 (July 2009), pp. 1040-1043; Proceedings of the 10th International Scanning Probe Microscopy Conference; doi: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2009.03.037 Published by Elsevier B.V. Used by permission.


Antiferromagnetically coupled magnetic thin films are promising candidates for the design of new magnetic storage and logic devices. The ability to control the interlayer thickness, therefore the magnetic reversal response, of exchange-coupled magnetic layers is of paramount importance in nanotechnology, especially in magnetic sensing element design and applications. In this work, magnetic force microscopy (MFM) with improved sensitivity and high spatial resolution probes was used to obtain a more detailed view of magnetization reversal behavior and domain evolution in the indirect exchange-coupled trilayer system: Co/Ru/Co. The effect of the variable Ru interlayer thickness on the exchange coupling and thus the magnetic domain structure during the ferromagnetic (FM)/antiferromagnetic (AF) coupling transition in Co/Ru/Co films is well demonstrated. The MFM images display a distinct signature of AF coupling for the films with Ru thickness of 0.4 nm. MFM has proven to be an effective tool for detecting FM/AF interlayer coupling and exploring magnetic domain structures in exchange-coupled layered thin films.

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