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Microwave spectroscopy on magnetization reversal dynamics

of nanomagnets with electronic detection
J. Grollier,a兲 M. V. Costache, C. H. van der Wal,b兲 and B. J. van Wees
Physics of Nanodevices, Materials Science Centre, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 4,
9747 AG Groningen, The Netherlands
共Received 13 November 2005; accepted 8 May 2006; published online 28 July 2006兲
We demonstrate a detection method for microwave spectroscopy on magnetization reversal
dynamics of nanomagnets. Measurement of the nanomagnet anisotropic magnetoresistance was
used for probing how magnetization reversal is resonantly enhanced by microwave magnetic fields.
We used Co strips of 2 ␮m ⫻ 130 nm⫻ 40 nm, and microwave fields were applied via an on-chip
coplanar waveguide. The method was applied for demonstrating single domain-wall resonance, and
studying the role of resonant domain-wall dynamics in magnetization reversal. © 2006 American
Institute of Physics. 关DOI: 10.1063/1.2218464兴

INTRODUCTION is defined with standard lift-off techniques 关Fig. 1共a兲兴. The

It is crucial for the implementation and miniaturization short at the end of the CPW forms a 2-␮m-wide microwave
of magnetic and spintronic devices to understand the magne- line, and provides the microwave magnetic field. Then a de-
tization dynamics of nanostructures at gigahertz frequencies. vice containing the nanomagnet is fabricated close to the
Our goal is to create and detect large amplitude ferromag- microwave line with shadow mask techniques.10 In this pa-
netic resonance1 共FMR兲 of individual nanomagnets. This is per we concentrate on the case of a cobalt strip of 2 ␮m
of interest for realizing fast magnetization reversal, and for ⫻ 130 nm⫻ 40 nm. It is deposited by e-beam evaporation
driving spin currents into adjacent normal metals.2 Cavity- parallel to the microwave line at 2 ␮m distance. In the same
based microwave techniques have been used for studying vacuum cycle, four aluminum fingers are deposited that form
FMR, but these are not sensitive enough for studies of indi- clean contacts with the Co strip 关Fig. 1共b兲兴. The microwave
vidual nanomagnets and the dynamics of individual domain field is perpendicular to the plane of the sample and the
walls. Gui et al.,3 however, recently showed with a ferro- equilibrium direction of the magnetization, which is a condi-
magnetic grating that dc transport measurements on the fer- tion for driving the FMR.11 The CPW is connected to a mi-
romagnet can form a very sensitive probe for microwave crowave signal generator via microwave probes with
induced FMR, charge dissipation, and their interplay. Earlier 40 GHz bandwidth.
experiments already showed that transport measurements Our detection method of FMR is based on microwave-
also allow for probing the magnetic configuration of indi- assisted magnetization reversal.12,13 Slowly sweeping a static
vidual submicron structures. Ono et al.4 using the giant mag- magnetic field parallel to the strip’s long dimension is used
netoresistance 共GMR兲 effect, and Klaui et al.5 using the an- for inducing a sudden switch event between the two satu-
isotropic magnetoresistance 共AMR兲 effect, have detected rated magnetic configurations. When microwave-driven
domain wall motion in magnetic nanowires. Work on FMR occurs, the magnetic configuration is excited out of a
current-induced dynamics of a single domain wall in a mag- metastable state, and the static-field induced switching oc-
netic nanowire by Saitoh et al.6 allowed for determining the curs at values closer to zero field. The switching fields are
domain wall mass. Further, the GMR effect was used for deduced from recording the strip’s resistance R共H兲 during
real-time detection of the dynamics of spin valve devices7,8 the field sweep. When approaching the switching field, the
and for observing spin-transfer induced magnetic oscillations magnetization is pushed slightly out of its zero-field configu-
at gigahertz frequencies.9 We demonstrate here how the ration, which causes a reduction of the strip’s AMR 共the
AMR effect can be used for detecting how microwave mag- strip’s AMR ratio is about 0.6%兲. Magnetization reversal is
netic fields resonantly enhance magnetization reversal of in-
dividual nanomagnets that are embedded in electronic nan-
odevices. This allows for analyzing the magnetization
dynamics in the metastable state prior to reversal of the mag-
We use devices that are patterned by electron beam li-
thography. In a first step, a gold coplanar waveguide 共CPW兲

Present address: Unité Mixte de Physique CNRS/Thales, Route Départe- FIG. 1. 共a兲 Optical microscope picture of the device including the CPW
mentale 128, 91767 Palaiseau Cedex, France. with a short at the end. 共b兲 Scanning electron microscope picture of the Co
Electronic mail: strip, contacted by four Al fingers.

0021-8979/2006/100共2兲/024316/3/$23.00 100, 024316-1 © 2006 American Institute of Physics

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024316-2 Grollier et al. J. Appl. Phys. 100, 024316 共2006兲

FIG. 2. Resistance vs static magnetic field H curves measured at room

temperature. Here H is parallel to the strip’s longest dimension and slowly
swept from −100 to + 100 mT. With the same sample, two behaviors 쎲 or
䉭 can be observed.

identified from a sudden return to the zero-field AMR value

共Fig. 2兲. The resistance of the sample is measured in a four FIG. 3. 共a兲 Average of upNoP 共䉭兲 and average of dn P 共쎲兲 vs frequency with
probe geometry 共see Fig. 1兲 with a lock-in detection tech- a 2.2 mT microwave field. 共b兲 Average of upNoP and dn P vs HMW at 3 GHz
nique and 5 ␮A ac bias current. All measurements are done 䊏, 4.2 GHz 쎲, 6.6 GHz 䉭. The line is the fit to the model. 共c兲 쎲: up P vs
frequency with a 2.2 mT microwave field. 共d兲 up P vs HMW at 3 GHz 䊏,
at room temperature. 4.2 GHz 쎲, 6.6 GHz 䉭.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION amplitude of these resonances are linked to the Gilbert
The switching of the samples is first characterized with- damping parameter ␣.
out applying a microwave field. In our particular sample, two Figure 3共b兲 shows how the switching fields upNoP and
types of R共H兲 curves can be obtained 共Fig. 2兲. This can be dn depend on microwave amplitude HMW, recorded for the
understood when considering that in high-aspect-ratio frequencies 3, 4.2, and 6.6 GHz. The data taken at 3 GHz
samples as used here, magnetization reversal occurs by do- 关outside the resonances in Fig. 3共a兲兴 does not depend on
main wall nucleation and propagation.4,14 The R共H兲 curve • HMW. For the data at 4.2 and 6.6 GHz, however, the switch-
shows first a small reversible decrease of the resistance,15 ing fields upNoP and dn P decrease linearly with HMW. The
and then a sharp transition towards the initial resistance at precision of our measurement does not allow to discriminate
⬇55 mT, noted as upNoP. At this field a domain wall propa- the 4.2 and 6.6 GHz curves. The same procedure is used to
gates through the strip. For the R共H兲 curve ⌬, the resistance analyze the microwave dependence of up P. Figure 3共c兲 pre-
also decreases progressively up to dn P at ⬇55 mT, but then sents results for up P versus frequency. Here only one reso-
drops sharply. R is then constant up to up P at ⬇65 mT, nance is detected around 4.4 GHz. This behavior is con-
where a jump towards the initial value is observed. In this firmed in Fig. 3共d兲: The switching field up P stays constant
case, instead of propagating directly through the sample, the when HMW is increased for both 3 and 6.6 GHz microwave
domain wall gets pinned between the voltage probes 共prob- fields. When the frequency of the microwave field is set to
ably by some defect arising from the lithographic process兲, 4.2 GHz, up P decreases with HMW with a steplike depen-
and a higher field is needed to unpin the domain wall.5 The dence.
decrease in resistance ⌬R is due to the spin distribution in We rule out that the observed phenomena are not FMR
the domain wall, which gives a negative contribution to the related but due to resonances in the microwave system. Re-
AMR. By comparing ⌬R to the total variation of resistance sistance vs microwave amplitude at high static magnetic field
⌬RAMR, we can estimate the width of the domain wall by 共200 mT兲, showed heating, but the frequency dependence at
W = d⌬R / ⌬RAMR ⬇ 250 nm, with d = 0.5 ␮m the distance be- fixed amplitude showed variations less than 5 m⍀. With a
tween the voltage probes. This value is comparable to the microwave power of 14 dBm 共corresponding to 2.2 mT兲
width of domain walls observed in Co rings of thickness and such resistance variations of the sample correspond to power
width similar to our sample.16 variations in the microwave line smaller than 1 dBm, and
We now turn to discussing microwave-assisted switch- these cannot explain the large variations in switching fields
ing, measured in static field cycles while applying a micro- that we observe 关see the reference curves at 3 GHz from
wave magnetic field as well. We first set the amplitude of Figs. 3共b兲 and 3共d兲 where the power is swept up to 18 dBm兴.
the microwave field to a value of 2.2 mT,17 and study the We thus conclude that we observe FMR enhanced switching.
frequency dependence of the switching fields. Figure 3共a兲 The interpretation of the results relies on the knowledge
shows results for upNoP and dn P. The upNoP and dn P values of the magnetic configuration before switching. At static
are distributed over 0.5 mT due to thermal broadening. fields slightly below up P the magnetic configuration is
In order to gain accuracy, the R共H兲 curve for each frequency known: it consists of two domains separated by a pinned
was performed ten times and we plot the averaged values. domain wall between the voltage probes. The magnetic con-
Within the precision of the measurement upNoP and dn P figuration at fields just inferior to upNoP and dn P is less clear:
are equal: the value of the field at which the domain wall the magnetization in the sample can be close to uniform, or a
appears between the voltage probes is the same for reversal domain wall can already be nucleated, but outside of the
with and without domain wall pinning. Further, we observe voltage probes. Examination of the involved resonance fre-
two resonances where the switching fields are decreased at quency values shows that in our experiments magnetization
4.2 and 6.6 GHz. As in FMR measurements, the width and reversal is always initiated by domain wall dynamics, and

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024316-3 Grollier et al. J. Appl. Phys. 100, 024316 共2006兲

not by the dynamics of the uniform mode. According to the attributed to spin waves or edges mode that can assist the
Kittel formula,18 the resonance frequency of the uniform onset of a reversal process.
mode is f = ␥0 / 共2␲兲冑关H + 共Ny − Nx兲HD兴关H + 共Nz − Nx兲HD兴.
Nx,y,z are the demagnetizing factors and HD the demagnetiz- CONCLUSIONS
ing field. With Nx,y ⬇ t / wx,y, Nz = 1 − Nx − Ny, HD = 1.8 T, and
H = −60 mT, we find f uniform ⬇ 21 GHz. This is far from the We have demonstrated a detection method for FMR in
measured values, and the observed resonance frequencies nanomagnets, based on transport measurements and
also occur well outside the error margin for this estimate. microwave-assisted magnetization reversal. We have used
The resonant mode for upNoP and dn P at 4.2 Ghz is then AMR measurements to probe how magnetization reversal of
more likely to be a domain wall resonance, just as for the a Co strip is enhanced by resonant microwave magnetic
4.4 GHz resonance in up P. To confirm this last statement, we fields. In these high-aspect ratio samples the magnetization
solve the following equations for domain wall motion:19 reversal occurs by domain wall nucleation and propagation.
This reversal mechanism is confirmed by our observations.
⳵␴ M s ˙ x Contrary to traditional FMR techniques, the presented
= 共␪ + ␣W−1ẋ兲 = M sH − M sHC , 共1兲
⳵x ␥0 xc method allows to study single domain wall dynamics.

= 共− ẋ − ␣W␪˙ 兲
⳵␪ ␥0 We acknowledge the RTN Spintronics Network, and the
= WHDM s sin ␪ cos ␪ − WM sHMW cos共␻t兲. 共2兲 Stichting Funtamenteel Onderzoek der Materie 共FOM兲 for
Here ␴ is the domain wall energy per unit area, M s the
saturation magnetization, ␥0 the gyromagnetic ratio, ␻ the 1
Note that we use here the convention to use the wording ferromagnetic
microwave angular frequency, x represents the domain wall resonance 共FMR兲 for a broad class of resonant phenomena in magnets
displacement along the strip, and ␪, the out-of-plane angle of 共e.g., spin-wave resonances, domain-wall resonances兲, and not only for
resonant driving of uniform precession of the magnetization.
the domain wall, is a deformation parameter. The last term in 2
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This reversible decrease can be due to a uniform rotation of the magneti-
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and the switching field dependence of upNoP and dn P on a domain wall pinned close to one of the voltage probes and inflating with
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The effective value of the field was calculated considering the power sent
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