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Nanopatterning reconfigurable magnetic landscapes via thermally assisted scanning probe lithography


The search for novel tools to control magnetism at the nanoscale is crucial for the development of new paradigms in optics, electronics and spintronics. So far, the fabrication of magnetic nanostructures has been achieved mainly through irreversible structural or chemical modifications. Here, we propose a new concept for creating reconfigurable magnetic nanopatterns by crafting, at the nanoscale, the magnetic anisotropy landscape of a ferromagnetic layer exchange-coupled to an antiferromagnetic layer. By performing localized field cooling with the hot tip of a scanning probe microscope, magnetic structures, with arbitrarily oriented magnetization and tunable unidirectional anisotropy, are reversibly patterned without modifying the film chemistry and topography. This opens unforeseen possibilities for the development of novel metamaterials with finely tuned magnetic properties, such as reconfigurable magneto-plasmonic and magnonic crystals. In this context, we experimentally demonstrate spatially controlled spin wave excitation and propagation in magnetic structures patterned with the proposed method.

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Figure 1: Magnetic patterning via tam-SPL.
Figure 2: MFM characterization and micromagnetic simulations of the patterned domain structures.
Figure 3: Tunability of magnetic anisotropies and evolution of patterned domains with external magnetic field.
Figure 4: Writing–erasing–rewriting capability.
Figure 5: Patterning magnonic structures.


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E.A. thanks K. Carroll, L. Xi and P. Sarti for discussions. M.M. and S.T. thank G. Carlotti for discussions. E.A. and E.R. acknowledge the support of the Office of Basic Energy Sciences of the US Department of Energy (DE-FG02-06ER46293). E.R. acknowledges partial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF; grant no. CMMI 1436375). E.A. and D.P. acknowledge support from Cariplo project UMANA (project no. 2013-0735). R.B. acknowledges support from Cariplo project MAGISTER (project no. 2013-0726). M.M. and S.T acknowledge support from the Ministero Italiano dell'Università e della Ricerca (MIUR) under the PRIN2010 project (no. 2010ECA8P3). M.P. and P.V. acknowledge support from the Basque Government (program no. PI_2015_1_19) and (M.P.) from the Spanish Ministry of Economy Competitiveness (grant no. BES-2013-063690). J.C. acknowledges partial support from the National Science Foundation (NSF; grant no. PHYS 0848797). This work was partially performed at Polifab, the micro- and nanofabrication facility of Politecnico di Milano.

Author information




E.A., with the help of D.P., conceived and designed the experiments. E.R. and R.B. coordinated and supervised the research. E.A. performed patterning experiments, MFM characterization and simulations. D.P. fabricated the samples. W.P.K. provided the thermal SPM tips. E.A., M.P., P.V. and R.B. performed MOKE characterization. E.A. and D.P. fabricated the samples for μ-BLS measurements. M.M. and S.T. performed μ-BLS measurements. A.P., G.C. and W.P. performed the simulation of the magnonic structures. E.A., D.P., M.M., S.T., P.V., E.R. and R.B. wrote the manuscript. All authors contributed to discussions regarding the research.

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Correspondence to E. Albisetti or E. Riedo or R. Bertacco.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Albisetti, E., Petti, D., Pancaldi, M. et al. Nanopatterning reconfigurable magnetic landscapes via thermally assisted scanning probe lithography. Nature Nanotech 11, 545–551 (2016).

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