Discontinuous vs. continuous spin reorientation transition of magnetic films on vicinal surfacesM. Elsen1, J. H. Gao1, V. Repain1, C. Chacon1, Y. Girard1, J. Lagoute1, G. Rodary1, J. Ferré2 and S. Rousset1
1 Laboratoire Matériaux et Phénomènes Quantiques (UMR CNRS 7162), Université Paris Diderot 10 rue Alice Domon et Léonie Duquet, 75205 Paris Cedex 13, France, EU
2 Laboratoire de Physique des Solides (UMR CNRS 8502), Université Paris-Sud - 91405 Orsay, France, EU
received 12 June 2009; accepted in final form 7 October 2009; published October 2009
published online 3 November 2009
The Spin Reorientation Transition (SRT) of Co ultrathin films grown on two Au(111) vicinal surfaces with the same step density but different step edge microfacets has been investigated by in situ magneto-optical Kerr effect. A drastic change in the width of the SRT is reported and is explained by the difference, measured by STM, of the anisotropic surface roughness. A general model, taking into account only uniaxial first-order terms in the anisotropy, is able to explain quantitatively the transition from a continuous to a discontinuous SRT as function of the anisotropic surface roughness. This model is generally applicable to magnetic ultrathin films grown on vicinal surfaces.
75.70.Ak - Magnetic properties of monolayers and thin films.
68.37.Ef - Scanning tunneling microscopy (including chemistry induced with STM).
68.55.-a - Thin film structure and morphology.
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