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Nanostructured complex oxides as a route towards thermal behavior in artificial spin ice systems


We have used soft x-ray photoemission electron microscopy to image the magnetization of single-domain La0.7Sr0.3MnO3 nanoislands arranged in geometrically frustrated configurations such as square ice and kagome ice geometries. Upon thermal randomization, ensembles of nanoislands with strong interisland magnetic coupling relax towards low-energy configurations. Statistical analysis shows that the likelihood of ensembles falling into low-energy configurations depends strongly on the annealing temperature. Annealing to just below the Curie temperature of the ferromagnetic film (TC=338K) allows for a much greater probability of achieving low-energy configurations as compared to annealing above the Curie temperature. At this thermally active temperature of 325 K, the ensemble of ferromagnetic nanoislands explore their energy landscape over time and eventually transition to lower energy states as compared to the frozen-in configurations obtained upon cooling from above the Curie temperature. Thus, this materials system allows for a facile method to systematically study thermal evolution of artificial spin ice arrays of nanoislands at temperatures modestly above room temperature.

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