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Soft x-ray ptychography resolves nanoscale magnetic and structural correlations in thin SmCo5 films

ptychographya) Single diffraction pattern recorded at 780.0 eV. b) Reconstructed phase image obtained from a difference between left and right polarization (=magnetic scattering). c) As in b) but obtained from a sum of left and right polarization (=charge scattering).

Scientific Achievement
Resolved nanoscale magnetic textures in thin amorphous SmCo5 films with soft x-ray ptychography at 10nm spatial resolution and identified embedded local inhomogeneities.

Significance and Impact
This study opens the door to high resolution x-ray imaging studies of novel spin textures, specifically skyrmions, where a nanoscale spatial resolution and the sensitivity to in-plane and out-of-plane spin components is crucial to provide fundamental insight into the underlying skyrmion nucleation mechanisms.

Research Details

  • Magnetometry indicates a strong perpendicular magnetic anisotropy accompanied by a weak in-plane component.
  • Soft x-ray imaging shows a mixture of stripe and labyrinth patterns consistent with the magnetometry data.
  • Nanoscale inclusions were identified and spectroscopically characterized indicating a Co-rich phase.

X. Shi, P. Fischer, V. Neu, D. Elefant, J. C. T. Lee, D. A. Shapiro, M. Farmand, T. Tyliszczak, H.-W. Shiu, S. Marchesini, S. Roy, S. D. Kevan, Appl Phys Lett 108 094103 (2016)