Monopole defects and magnetic Coulomb blockade Ladak et al., New Journal of Physics 2011
Magnetic monopoles, predicted by Dirac, entered a new paradigm with the discovery of emergent monopoles within dipole lattices known as bulk and artificial spin ices. The observation of monopoles in certain artificial systems, and their absence from other similar structures, is a significant puzzle. Connected artificial nanostructured spin-ice structures attract much attention in terms of the possibility to read states electrically, and offer the possibility of monopole defect control via well-understood domain wall processes. Nevertheless, full comprehension of the underlying processes is lacking. Researchers from the London Centre for Nanotechnology at Imperial College establish one of the overriding components. They demonstrate using high-resolution scanning transmission x-ray microscopy (STXM) the cooperative process associated with two transverse domain walls that creates the monopole defect in NiFe. The feature size of the array is large compared to the exchange length in the ferromagnet, and the two transverse domain walls give a rich internal structure to the monopole defect vertex. The magnetic Coulomb repulsion between two domain walls carrying the same sign of magnetic charge stabilizes the monopole defects at fields greater than the depinning field for a single wall at that vertex. These observations allow us to form an overview of monopole defect control possibilities from extrinsic pinning as in Co arrays (the extreme extrinsic limit being isolated bar structures) to intrinsic pinning captured here.