A search for high-speed and low-energy memory devices puts antiferromagnetic thin films at the forefront of spintronic research. Here, we develop a material model of a granular antiferromagnetic thin film with uniaxial anisotropy and provide fundamental insight into the interaction of antiferromagnetic domain walls with grain boundaries. This model is validated on thin films of the antiferromagnetic insulator Cr2O3, revealing complex mazelike domain patterns hosting localized nanoscale domains down to 50 nm. We show that the intergrain magnetic parameters can be estimated based on an analysis of high-resolution images of antiferromagnetic domain patterns examining the domain patterns’ self-similarity and the statistical distribution of domain sizes. Having a predictive material model and understanding of the pinning of domain walls on grain boundaries, we put forth design rules to realize granular antiferromagnetic recording media.
Oleksandr V. Pylypovskyi, Natascha Hedrich, Artem V. Tomilo, Tobias Kosub, Kai Wagner, René Hübner, Brendan Shields, Denis D. Sheka, Jürgen Fassbender, Patrick Maletinsky, and Denys Makarov Interaction of Domain Walls with Grain Boundaries in Uniaxial Insulating Antiferromagnets, Physical Review Applied 20 (2023) 014020 DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevApplied.20.014020 (pdf, supplementary)