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Loop bifurcation and magnetization rotation in exchange-biased Ni/FeF2


Exchange-biased Ni/FeF2 films have been investigated using vector coil vibrating-sample magnetometry as a function of the cooling field strength H-FC. In films with epitaxial FeF2, a loop bifurcation develops with increasing H-FC as it divides into two sub-loops shifted oppositely from zero field by the same amount. The positively biased sub-loop grows in size with H-FC until only a single positively shifted loop is found. Throughout this process, the negative and positive (sub)loop shifts maintain the same discrete value. This is in sharp contrast to films with twinned FeF2 where the exchange field gradually changes with increasing H-FC. The transverse magnetization shows clear correlations with the longitudinal subloops. Interestingly, over 85% of the Ni reverses its magnetization by rotation, either in one step or through two successive rotations. These results are due to the single-crystal nature of the antiferromagnetic FeF2, which breaks down into two opposite regions of large domains.

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