Theory for nucleation at an interface and magnetization reversal of a two-layer nanowire

Peter Loxley, Robert Stamps

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


Nucleation at the interface between two adjoining regions with dissimilar physical properties is investigated using a model for magnetization reversal of a two-layer ferromagnetic nanowire. Each layer of the nanowire is considered to have a different degree of magnetic anisotropy, representing a hard magnetic layer exchange-coupled to a softer layer. A magnetic field applied along the easy axis causes the softer layer to reverse, forming a domain wall close to the interface. For small applied fields this state is metastable and complete reversal of the nanowire takes place via activation over a barrier. A reversal mechanism involving nucleation at an interface is proposed, whereby a domain wall changes in width as it passes from the soft layer to the hard layer during activation. Langer's statistical theory for the decay of a metastable state is used to derive rates of magnetization reversal, and simple formulas are found in limiting cases for the activation energy, rate of reversal, and critical field at which the metastable state becomes unstable. These formulas depend on the anisotropy difference between each layer, and the behavior of the reversal rate prefactor is interpreted in terms of activation entropy and domain-wall dynamics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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