X-ray Microdiffraction Images of Antiferromagnetic Domain Evolution in Chromium

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Science  08 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5557, pp. 1042-1045
DOI: 10.1126/science.1066870

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Magnetic x-ray diffraction combined with x-ray focusing optics was used to image individual antiferromagnetic spin density wave domains in a chromium single crystal at the micron scale. The cross section for nonresonant magnetic x-ray scattering depends on the antiferromagnetic modulation vector and spin polarization direction and allows these quantities to be extracted independently. The technique was used to show that the broadening of the nominally first-order “spin-flip” transition at 123 kelvin, at which the spins rotate by 90°, originates at the walls between domains with orthogonal modulation vectors. During cooling, the transition begins at these walls and progresses inward. The modulation vector domains are themselves unchanged.

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