New publication in Nature Communications

Date of news: 1 April 2020

Quantifying exchange forces of a spin spiral on the atomic scale

The large interest in chiral magnetic structures for realization of nanoscale magnetic storage or logic devices has necessitated methods which can quantify magnetic interactions at the atomic scale. To overcome the limitations of the typically used current-based sensing of atomic-scale exchange interactions, a force-based detection scheme is highly advantageous. Here, we quantify the atomic-scale exchange force field between a ferromagnetic tip and a cycloidal spin spiral using our developed combination of current and exchange force detection. Compared to the surprisingly weak spin polarization, the exchange force field is more sensitive to atomic-scale variations in the magnetization. First-principles calculations reveal that the measured atomic-scale variations in the exchange force originate from different contributions of direct and indirect (Zener type) exchange mechanisms, depending on the chemical tip termination. Our work opens the perspective of quantifying different exchange mechanisms of chiral magnetic structures with atomic-scale precision using 3D magnetic exchange force field measurements.

Press release (pdf, 142 kB)