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Atomic spin structure of antiferromagnetic domain walls


The search for uncompensated magnetic moments on antiferromagnetic surfaces is of great technological importance as they are responsible for the exchange-bias effect that is widely used in state-of-the-art magnetic storage devices. We have studied the atomic spin structure of phase domain walls in the antiferromagnetic Fe monolayer on W(001) by means of spin-polarized scanning tunnelling microscopy and Monte Carlo simulations. The domain wall width only amounts to 6–8 atomic rows. Although walls oriented along 〈100〉 directions are found to be fully compensated, detailed analysis of 〈110〉-oriented walls reveals an uncompensated perpendicular magnetic moment. Our result represents a major advance in the field of antiferromagnetism, and may lead to a better understanding of the magnetic interaction between ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic materials.

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Figure 1: Schematic representation and experimental observation of DWs at antiferromagnetic surfaces.
Figure 2: MC simulation of antiferromagnetic DWs.
Figure 3: Spin configuration of [010]- and [110]-oriented DWs.
Figure 4: Detailed view of a 〈110〉-oriented p-DW.


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We thank C. M. Schneider (FZ Jülich) and U. Nowak (University of York, UK) for helpful discussions. Financial support from the DFG (SFB 668 and Graduate School ‘Design and characterization of functional materials’), from the EU project ASPRINT, from the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft, and from the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center Hamburg is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to M. Bode.

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Bode, M., Vedmedenko, E., von Bergmann, K. et al. Atomic spin structure of antiferromagnetic domain walls. Nature Mater 5, 477–481 (2006).

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