Controlling the kinetic order of spin-reorientations in Ni/Cu(001) films by tuning the substrate step structure.
To study whether spin-reorientation transitions in 8–10 ML thick Ni/Cu(100) films take place by continuous or discontinuous rotation of the magnetization, we used spin-polarized low-energy electron microscopy to image the magnetization vector of magnetic domains during Ni growth. After substrate preparations that either promote or suppress bunching of atomic steps, we find strong evidence for either first- or second-order transition kinetics. The results are explained in terms of a magnetic phase diagram, taking the effect of topography on magnetic anisotropy contributions into account.
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