Nanoscale imaging and control of domain-wall hopping with a nitrogen-vacancy center microscope

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Science  20 Jun 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6190, pp. 1366-1369
DOI: 10.1126/science.1250113

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Observing jumping domain walls

Domain walls, which separate regions of opposite magnetization in a ferromagnet, have rich dynamics that are difficult to characterize in small samples. Tetienne et al. imaged the magnetization of a thin ferromagnetic wire and observed the jumping of a domain wall between different positions along the wire. They used a scanning magnetic microscope based on a defect in diamond. The laser light needed to operate the microscope also enabled the control of the domain wall motion by causing local heating, which made the illuminated position more likely to contain a domain wall.

Science, this issue p. 1366


The control of domain walls in magnetic wires underpins an emerging class of spintronic devices. Propagation of these walls in imperfect media requires defects that pin them to be characterized on the nanoscale. Using a magnetic microscope based on a single nitrogen-vacancy (NV) center in diamond, we report domain-wall imaging on a 1-nanometer-thick ferromagnetic nanowire and directly observe Barkhausen jumps between two pinning sites spaced 50 nanometers apart. We further demonstrate in situ laser control of these jumps, which allows us to drag the domain wall along the wire and map the pinning landscape. Our work demonstrates the potential of NV microscopy to study magnetic nano-objects in complex media, whereas controlling domain walls with laser light may find an application in spintronic devices.

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