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Direct observation of magnetic monopole defects in an artificial spin-ice system [Letter]

Ladak, Sam ORCID:, Read, Daniel ORCID:, Perkins, G. K., Cohen, L. F. and Branford, W. R. 2010. Direct observation of magnetic monopole defects in an artificial spin-ice system [Letter]. Nature Physics 6 (5) , pp. 359-363. 10.1038/nphys1628

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Free monopoles have fascinated and eluded researchers since their prediction by Dirac1 in 1931. In spin ice, the bulk frustrated magnet, local ordering principles known as ice rules—two-in/two-out for four spins arranged in a tetrahedron—minimize magnetic charge. Remarkably, recent work2, 3, 4, 5 shows that mobile excitations, termed ‘monopole defects’, emerge when the ice rules break down2. Using a cobalt honeycomb nanostructure we study the two-dimensional planar analogue called kagome or artificial spin ice. Here we show direct images of kagome monopole defects and the flow of magnetic charge using magnetic force microscopy. We find the local magnetic charge distribution at each vertex of the honeycomb pins the magnetic charge carriers, and opposite charges hop in opposite directions in an applied field. The parameters that enter the problem of creating and imaging monopole defects can be mapped onto a simple model that requires only the ice-rule violation energy and distribution of switching fields of the individual bars of a cobalt honeycomb lattice. As we demonstrate, it is the exquisite interplay between these energy scales in the cobalt nanostructure that leads to our experimental observations.

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Subjects: T Technology > TK Electrical engineering. Electronics Nuclear engineering
Uncontrolled Keywords: Condensed-matter physics; Nanotechnology; Materials physics
Publisher: Nature Publishing Group
ISSN: 1745-2473
Last Modified: 17 Oct 2022 10:12

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