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April 20, 2023

Quantitative Imaging of Exotic Antiferromagnetic Spin Cycloids in BiFeO3 Thin Films

BiFeO3 is a rich room-temperature multiferroic material in which noncollinear antiferromagnetic spin cycloids can be deterministically controlled by an electric field through the magnetoelectric interaction, opening perspectives for low-power reconfigurable antiferromagnetic spintronics. Using a commercial scanning nitrogen-vacancy (N-V) magnetometer, we are able to image two different types of spin cycloids stabilized in strain-engineered BiFeO3 epitaxial thin films. We show that, in these samples harboring two ferroelectric variants, each ferroelectric domain is coupled to a single spin cycloid, giving rise to a zigzag magnetic pattern. These ferroelectric domains can be manipulated at the local scale by piezoresponse force microscopy, allowing the design of micron-sized single domains. Thanks to its coupled optical microscope and fast-imaging capabilities, the scanning N-V magnetometer enables a quick repositioning in such areas of interest. Finally, quantitative imaging on single ferroelectric domains provides insights into the physical parameters of each spin-cycloid type and their impact on the magnetic-stray-field measurements.

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