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Oscillatory dependence of current-driven magnetic domain wall motion on current pulse length


Magnetic domain walls, in which the magnetization direction varies continuously from one direction to another, have long been objects of considerable interest1. New concepts for devices based on such domain walls are made possible by the direct manipulation of the walls using spin-polarized electrical current2,3 through the phenomenon of spin momentum transfer4,5. Most experiments to date have considered the current-driven motion of domain walls under quasi-static conditions6,7,8,9,10,11,12, whereas for technological applications, the walls must be moved on much shorter timescales. Here we show that the motion of domain walls under nanosecond-long current pulses is surprisingly sensitive to the pulse length. In particular, we find that the probability of dislodging a domain wall, confined to a pinning site in a permalloy nanowire, oscillates with the length of the current pulse, with a period of just a few nanoseconds. Using an analytical model13,14,15,16,17 and micromagnetic simulations, we show that this behaviour is connected to a current-induced oscillatory motion of the domain wall. The period is determined by the wall's mass18 and the slope of the confining potential. When the current is turned off during phases of the domain wall motion when it has enough momentum, the domain wall is driven out of the confining potential in the opposite direction to the flow of spin angular momentum. This dynamic amplification effect could be exploited in magnetic nanodevices based on domain wall motion.

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Figure 1: Experimental configuration.
Figure 2: Probability of motion of a domain wall subjected to current pulses of various lengths and amplitudes.
Figure 3: Current-driven dynamics of a domain wall pinned in a parabolic potential well calculated with the 1D model.
Figure 4: Contour maps of the domain wall response to current pulses calculated within the 1D model.

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We acknowledge financial support from DMEA.

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Correspondence to Luc Thomas or Stuart S. P. Parkin.

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Thomas, L., Hayashi, M., Jiang, X. et al. Oscillatory dependence of current-driven magnetic domain wall motion on current pulse length. Nature 443, 197–200 (2006).

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