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Phys Rev Lett. 2013 Aug 2;111(5):057204. Epub 2013 Aug 2.

Direct observation of thermal relaxation in artificial spin ice.

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Laboratory for Micro- and Nanotechnology, Paul Scherrer Institute, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland.


We study the thermal relaxation of artificial spin ice with photoemission electron microscopy, and are able to directly observe how such a system finds its way from an energetically excited state to the ground state. On plotting vertex-type populations as a function of time, we can characterize the relaxation, which occurs in two stages, namely a string and a domain regime. Kinetic MonteĀ Carlo simulations agree well with the temporal evolution of the magnetic state when including disorder, and the experimental results can be explained by considering the effective interaction energy associated with the separation of pairs of vertex excitations.

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