Spin-Polarized Scanning Tunneling Microscopy

Authored by: Matthias Bode

Handbook of Spin Transport and Magnetism

Print publication date:  August  2011
Online publication date:  April  2016

Print ISBN: 9781439803776
eBook ISBN: 9781439803783
Adobe ISBN:


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Fueled by the ever increasing data density in magnetic storage technology and the need for a better understanding of the physical properties of magnetic nanostructures, there exists a strong demand for high-resolution magnetically sensitive microscopy techniques. The technique with the highest available resolution is spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy (SP-STM), which combines the atomic-resolution capability of conventional STMs with spin sensitivity by making use of the tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) effect between a magnetic tip and the magnetic sample surface. Beyond the investigation of ferromagnetic surfaces, thin films, and epitaxial nanostructures with unforeseen precision, it also allows the achievement of a longstanding dream, that is, the real-space imaging of atomic spins in antiferromagnetic surfaces. Furthermore, the atomic spin resolution capability of SP-STM allowed for the discovery and investigation of complex spin structures like frustrated triangular structures and helical spin spirals, which were hypothesized but could not be imaged directly before.

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