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4D Lorentz Electron Microscopy Imaging: Magnetic Domain Wall Nucleation, Reversal, and Wave Velocity

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posted on 08.09.2010, 00:00 authored by Hyun Soon Park, J. Spencer Baskin, Ahmed H. Zewail
Magnetization reversal is an important topic of research in the fields of both basic and applied ferromagnetism. For the study of magnetization reversal dynamics and magnetic domain wall (DW) motion in ferromagnetic thin films, imaging techniques are indispensable. Here, we report 4D imaging of DWs by the out-of-focus Fresnel method in Lorentz ultrafast electron microscopy (UEM), with in situ spatial and temporal resolutions. The temporal change in magnetization, as revealed by changes in image contrast, is clocked using an impulsive optical field to produce structural deformation of the specimen, thus modulating magnetic field components in the specimen plane. Directly visualized are DW nucleation and subsequent annihilation and oscillatory reappearance (periods of 32 and 45 ns) in nickel films on two different substrates. For the case of Ni films on a Ti/Si3N4 substrate, under conditions of minimum residual external magnetic field, the oscillation is associated with a unique traveling wave train of periodic magnetization reversal. The velocity of DW propagation in this wave train is measured to be 172 m/s with a wavelength of 7.8 μm. The success of this study demonstrates the promise of Lorentz UEM for real-space imaging of spin switching, ferromagnetic resonance, and laser-induced demagnetization in ferromagnetic nanostructures.