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Phys Rev Lett. 2009 Sep 18;103(12):127202. Epub 2009 Sep 14.

Magnetization reversal of nanoscale islands: how size and shape affect the arrhenius prefactor.

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Institute of Applied Physics and Microstructure Research Center, University of Hamburg, 20355 Hamburg, Germany.


The thermal switching behavior of individual in-plane magnetized Fe/W(110) nanoislands is investigated by a combined study of variable-temperature spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy and Monte Carlo simulations. Even for islands consisting of less than 100 atoms the magnetization reversal takes place via nucleation and propagation. The Arrhenius prefactor is found to strongly depend on the individual island size and shape, and based on the experimental results a simple model is developed to describe the magnetization reversal in terms of metastable states. Complementary Monte Carlo simulations confirm the model and provide new insight into the microscopic processes involved in magnetization reversal of smallest nanomagnets.

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