Physical Review B - CMMP

Incoherent magnetization reversal in 30-nm Ni particles

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The magnetic properties of a 100-nm-period large-area array of regular, 30-nm polycrystalline nickel particles have been studied. The particles are found to reverse incoherently, and their hysteresis behavior has been compared with a computational model over a range of temperatures. Excellent agreement with the model is obtained, indicating that switching of the particles is dominated by the reversal of approximately 10-nm-diameter volumes within each particle. These switching volumes are identified with the columnar grains in the polycrystalline nickel, showing that the microstructure determines the magnetic behavior of the particles. This explains the anisotropy distribution and the onset of superparamagnetism in the sample. Incoherent reversal occurs even though the particles are only 1.5 times the exchange length in nickel, a size at which nearly uniform rotation is expected to occur if the particles were homogeneous.