Asymmetric Reversal in Inhomogeneous Magnetic Heterostructures
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Asymmetric magnetization reversal is an unusual phenomenon in antiferromagnet/ferromagnet (AF/FM) exchange biased bilayers. We investigated this phenomenon in a simple model system experimentally and by simulation assuming inhomogeneously distributed interfacial AF moments. The results suggest that the observed asymmetry originates from the intrinsic broken symmetry of the system, which results in local incomplete domain walls parallel to the interface in reversal to negative saturation of the FM. The magneto-optical Kerr effect unambiguously confirms such an asymmetric reversal and a depth-dependent FM domain wall in accord with the magnetometry and simulations.