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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Canted stripe phase evolution due to a spin reorientation transition in Fe films grown on Ag(001) vicinal surface


The evolution of the domain structure with the thickness of bcc Fe films deposited on the Ag(116) vicinal surface is studied by spin-polarized low-energy electron microscopy. We show that a spin reorientation transition proceeds via two mechanisms: continuous rotation of magnetization within the vertical plane perpendicular to the steps and discontinuous reorientation of the in-plane component of magnetization, leading to splitting of the domains. In contrast to previously investigated systems with stripe domains, we reveal that in the case of a vicinal ferromagnetic surface, the domain width increases while changing the orientation of the magnetization from a canted out-of-plane state into an in-plane state. A theoretical model developed in this work successfully describes the domain structure behavior observed in our experiments and can be equally applied to other ferromagnetic films grown on vicinal surfaces.

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