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Electron-Spin Motion as a New Tool to Investigate Ferromagnetic Film Systems: A Few Examples

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When electrons are reflected from a ferromagnetic surface, their spin polarization vector is expected to move. This spin motion, comprising an azimuthal precession by an angle ε and a polar rotation by an angle φ about the magnetization direction of the ferromagnetic film has been studied in spin-polarized electron scattering experiments. As example we present studies of the influence of the lattice relaxation on the electron-spin motion in Fe films grown on Ag(001). The two central observations are: (1) Oscillations with monolayer periodicity of the electron-spin motion angles are observed as a function of the Fe thickness. They are attributed to the oscillatory behavior of the surface-lattice strain that is relaxed at island edges of the incompletely filled top Fe layer. (2) For strongly relaxed thick Fe films a giant spin precession angle of 180°, which is accompanied by a pronounced minimum in the reflected electron intensity, is observed at low kinetic electron energies. Calculations reveal that lattice relaxations during growth of Fe on Ag(001) are responsible for the strong changes of the electron-spin motion angles. In the last paragraph we present first measurements on the spin filtering in ferromagnet/semiconductor Schottky junctions, which serve as a first step to measure the spin motion in transmission geometry in an all-solid state device.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2013

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