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Chirality switching of an antiferromagnetic spiral wall and its effect on magnetic anisotropy


An antiferromagnetic NiO spiral wall in Fe/NiO/Co0.5Ni0.5O/vicinal Ag(001) was created by rotating Fe magnetization and investigated using x-ray magnetic linear dichroism (XMLD). Different from the Mauri's 180° spiral wall, we find that the NiO spiral wall always switches its chirality at ∼90 rotation of the Fe magnetization, and unwinds the spiral wall back to a single domain with a further rotation of the Fe magnetization from 90° to 180°. The effect of this chirality switching on the magnetic anisotropy was studied using rotational magneto-optic Kerr effect (ROTMOKE) on Py/NiO/Co0.5Ni0.5O/vicinal Ag(001). We find that the original Mauri's model has to be corrected by an energy folding due to the chirality switching, which consequently converts the exchange bias from the Mauri's 180° spiral wall into a uniaxial anisotropy and a negative fourfold anisotropy.

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