a Scanning Near-Field Optical Microscope with Magneto-Optic Kerr Effect Contrast for the Imaging of Magnetic Domains with 200 Angstrom Resolution
We describe the development of a scanning near -field optical microscope for magnetic domain imaging in thin-film materials. The near-field probe is a 20-40 nm Ag particle which is optically excited near the surface plasmon resonance frequency. The plasmon resonance in individual Ag particles is characterized by optical spectroscopy for light scattered from single Ag particles. The existence of a near-field form of the magneto-optic Kerr effect is confirmed. In the final form of the microscope, the Ag particle is mounted on a hemispherical glass substrate and brought to within near-field proximity of a flat sample surface. The separation of the probe and sample is regulated by a Newton ring interferometer in closed loop feedback control of a piezoelectric translator. Separation stability can be kept to less than one nanometer. Near-field magneto -optic interactions are measured with a shot-noise limited modulating ellipsometer. We measured the dependence of the near-field Kerr signal on the separation of the probe and sample for longitudinal magnetization, and suggest a potential resolution of 20-40 nm. Two-dimensional images are presented of thermo-magnetically recorded domains in a Co/Pt multilayer material, with less than 100 nm resolution. Domains with a 0.5 micron diameter and one micron spacing are clearly resolved. We discuss future improvements of the instrument and propose an ultimate resolution of 140 A.
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- Physics: Optics; Physics: Condensed Matter; Engineering: Electronics and Electrical