Motion of magnetic domain walls in engineered cylindrical nanowires

Abstract : The thesis is concerned with the observation of ferromagnetic domain walls in cylindrical nanowires, as well as their dynamics under applied magnetic fields. These nanostructures were electrodeposited by colleagues of mine into nanoporous alumina templates with a tailored pore geometry. The materials are soft FeNi or CoNi alloys; the diameters range from 150 nm to 250-300 nm, with a typical length of 30 µm.My work first comprised experimental developments of sample holders and high-frequency electronics towards field-induced domain wall motion. The latter I investigated with X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism coupled to transmission PhotoEmission Electron Microscopy (XMCD-PEEM). This synchrotron-based technique allows to monitor the internal domain wall configuration before and after displacement; due to the stringent requirements of time-resolved XMCD-PEEM experiments in terms of reproducibility, the real-time dynamics is out of reach as of yet.The response of ferromagnetic domain walls to applied magnetic fields is notably characterized by their mobility, i.e. the ratio of attained velocity to field strength. In cylindrical nanowires, a novel ingredient emerges in the case of one domain wall type that is absent in flat strips: the Bloch point domain wall. Not only does this domain wall host a micromagnetic singularity, that is to say a point where magnetization vanishes (the Bloch point), but it also possesses a discrete degree of freedom representing the sense of magnetization winding around the nanowire axis. It has been predicted that Bloch point wall motion under sufficiently high fields leads to this degree of freedom selecting one of its only two possible values. In other words, one winding becomes unstable. I report in this thesis experimental evidence of such a selection in a majority of Bloch point wall motion events.Although mobility measurements could not be carried out, my experiments have furthermore evidenced transformations between domain wall types that had not been predicted in simulations. Since the Bloch point wall contains a topological defect (the Bloch point itself), this unexpected behaviour questions the sometimes argued protection attributed to topologically non-trivial textures. While reminiscent of the well-known conversion between transverse and vortex walls in strips, these transformations in cylindrical nanowires involve topologically non-equivalent micromagnetic configurations, in contrast with the aforementioned transverse and vortex walls. Moreover, the observed only relative stability of domain wall types suggests caution in the interpretation of future mobility measurements in such systems, if the internal wall configuration cannot be resolved.Aside from such electrodeposited samples, I have also studied an upright core-shell nanowire grown by colleagues with Focused-Electron-Beam-Induced Deposition. This nanostructure featured a nanocrystalline cobalt core and a platinum shell. Its magnetic configuration was investigated with transmission XMCD-PEEM as well. Contrary to the aforementioned horizontally-lying wires, the core-shell sample was vertical with no diameter modulations. On the other hand, the geometry featured bends engineered to favour domain wall pinning. In this novel imaging configuration, the challenge was to recover as much of the nanowire's magnetic state as possible. I was able to demonstrate the presence of at least one domain wall.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - 1:47:07 PM
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Alexis Wartelle. Motion of magnetic domain walls in engineered cylindrical nanowires. Materials Science [cond-mat.mtrl-sci]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018GREAY025⟩. ⟨tel-01908662⟩

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