Today sees the publication of my latest article, published in Scientific Reports. This work involves the use of first principles methods and atomistic spin dynamics to study the magnetic properties of Fe/Ir/Fe sandwiches. Such magnetic systems with interfaces are extremely difficult to model accurately, but by using first and second principles models we have been able to obtain layer-by-layer equilibrium and dynamic properties, which are even trickier to determine experimentally.
By using the SIESTA code to structurally relax the interfaces (see schematic) of different Ir, the ground state atomic structure can be found. We then used the Budapest SKKR code to determine an extended Heisenberg Hamiltonian. This complex Hamiltonian has a complete lack of translational invariance perpendicular to the plane, essentially meaning that each Iron plane is in its own environment which interact differently with the others. Our spin dynamics results show that this has important consequences for the equilibrium magnetic properties, as well as the dynamics. We find that the spinwaves are stiffened with increasing temperature, which goes against the thermal effects that usually result in a decrease. This is due to the frustration arising from the exchange at the interface with Ir. Finally, our results reveal a plane-wise dependence of the demagnetisation process.
The work was done in collaboration with international groups including ICN2 (Barcelona), Budapest University of Technology and the Universities of Exeter and York. The work is Open Access meaning that it is free for all to view (see this link). This was made possible due to the Sheffield Hallam University Open Access Fund. I would also like to thank Eddy Verbaan and the Library Research Support Team for their help in obtaining funding to make this article Open Access.
Controlling the relaxation of magnetisation in magnetic nano-structures is key to optimising magnetic storage devices. Present day magnetic storage devices have what is known as a granular structure where the magnetic orientation of a section of grains (see the schematic) store the binary information (1’s and 0’s). At the nano-scale these grains can interact which affects how the magnetisation reacts to an external stimulus and therefore how the magnetisation is controlled.
In collaboration with experimental partners at Seagate Technology, in the Netherlands, as well as with, theoretical collaborators in the UK, our recently published article in Physical Review Bwe have shown that the effects of the exchange interaction between grains has a strong effect on the relaxation processes and time-scale of the dynamics. Experimentally a sample series with different intergrain exchange was measured using a pump-probe technique (optical ferromagnetic resonance) and showed that the damping decreased significantly with increasing interaction strength, confirmed by both (semi)-analytic and computational models, providing new insights into technologically relevant magnetic materials.
Without funding this work would not have been possible so the authors are gratefully to; the Marie Curie Incoming BeIPD-COFUND fellowship program at the University of Liège; the Advanced Storage Technology Consortium; and the European Commission under contract number 281043 (FEMTOSPIN). Thanks to Jamie Verwey for the schematic diagram.
Controlling magnetic order on ultrashort timescales is crucial for engineering the next-generation magnetic devices that combine ultrafast data processing with ultrahigh-density data storage. An appealing scenario in this context is the use of femtosecond (fs) laser pulses as an ultrafast, external stimulus to fully set the orientation and the magnetization magnitude of a spin ensemble. Achieving such control on ultrashort timescales, e.g., comparable to the excitation event itself, remains however a challenge due to the lack of understanding the dynamical behavior of the key parameters governing magnetism; the elemental magnetic moments and the exchange interaction.
In a new article published in the journal SPIN, we investigate the fs laser-induced spin dynamics in a variety of multi-component alloys and reveal a dissimilar dynamics of the constituent magnetic moments on ultrashort timescales. Moreover, we show that such distinct dynamics is a general phenomenon that can be exploited to engineer new magnetic media with tailor-made, optimized dynamic properties. Using phenomenological considerations, atomistic modeling and time-resolved X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD), we demonstrate demagnetization of the constituent sub-lattices on significantly different timescales that depend on their magnetic moments and the sign of the exchange interaction. The results can be used as a “recipe” for manipulation and control of magnetization dynamics in a large class of magnetic materials.
This work was lead by Ilie Radu (TU Berlin) and carried out in collaboration with a number of experimental and theoretical partners across Europe and Japan. The article is made publicly available through the journal’s open access format and was selected as the front cover highlight of the issue (see image above) and was in the top five most downloaded articles in 2015 in the journal SPIN. The work would not have been possible without the support of the European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007–2013) Grants No. NMP3-SL-2008-214469 (UltraMagnetron), No. 214810 (FANTOMAS) and No. 281043 (FEMTOSPIN) and ERC Grant No. 257280 (Femtomagnetism) as well as Grant No. 226716 and ERC-2013- AdG339813-EXCHANGE, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) Grant No. 05K10PG2 (FEMTOSPEX), the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter (FOM) and the Netherlands Organization for Scientic Research (NWO) is gratefully acknowledged.