Magnetization reversal in circular vortex dots of small radius†
We present a detailed study of the magnetic behavior of Permalloy (Ni80Fe20 alloy) circular nanodots with small radii (30 nm and 70 nm) and different thicknesses (30 nm or 50 nm). Despite the small size of the dots, the measured hysteresis loops manifestly display the features of classical vortex behavior with zero remanence and lobes at high magnetic fields. This is remarkable because the size of the magnetic vortex core is comparable to the dot diameter, as revealed by magnetic force microscopy and micromagnetic simulations. The dot ground states are close to the border of the vortex stability and, depending on the dot size, the magnetization distribution combines attributes of the typical vortex, single domain states or even presents features resembling magnetic skyrmions. An analytical model of the dot magnetization reversal, accounting for the large vortex core size, is developed to explain the observed behavior, providing a rather good agreement with the experimental results. The study extends the understanding of magnetic nanodots beyond the classical vortex concept (where the vortex core spins have a negligible influence on the magnetic behavior) and can therefore be useful for improving emerging spintronic applications, such as spin-torque nano-oscillators. It also delimits the feasibility of producing a well-defined vortex configuration in sub-100 nm dots, enabling the intracellular magneto-mechanical actuation for biomedical applications.