The magnetization reversal of magnetic multilayers with spin-valve like characteristics, patterned into an array of parallel stripes, was structurally and magnetically analyzed, in detail, via x-ray scattering, magnetometry, and polarized neutron reflectivity. Each stripe contains a multiple repetition of the layer sequence [Fe/Cr/Co/Cr]. X-ray and neutron scattering maps of the patterned multilayer show rich details resulting from the superposition of Bragg peaks representing the lateral in-plane periodicity and the out-of-plane multilayer period. Detailed analysis of specular and off-specular polarized neutron intensity was used to ascertain the antiparallel alignment of the Co and Fe magnetization within the kink region of their combined hysteresis loop between the coercive fields of Fe and Co layers. This includes also an examination of domain formation and inter- as well as intra-stripe correlation effects upon magnetization reversal. Our combined study shows that the shape induced anisotropy via patterning is capable of overriding the four-fold crystal anisotropy but is unable to eliminate the ripple domain state of the Co layers, already present in the continuous multilayer.
Brüssing et al. J. Appl. Phys. 117, 133903 (2015)