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Magnetic small-angle neutron scattering

Mühlbauer, S.; Honecker, D.; Perigo, E. A.; Bergner, F.; Disch, S.; Heinemann, A.; Erokhin, S.; Berkov, D.; Leighton, C.; Eskildsen, M. R.; Michels, A.


Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) is one of the most important techniques for microstructure determination, being utilized in a wide range of scientific disciplines, such as materials science, physics, chemistry, and biology. The reason for its great significance is that conventional SANS is probably the only method capable of probing structural inhomogeneities in the bulk of materials on a mesoscopic real-space length scale, from roughly 1 − 300 nm. Moreover, the exploitation of the spin degree of freedom of the neutron provides SANS with a unique sensitivity to study magnetism and magnetic materials at the nanoscale. As such, magnetic SANS ideally complements more real-space and surface-sensitive magnetic imaging techniques, e.g., Lorentz transmission electron microscopy, electron holography, magnetic force microscopy, Kerr microscopy, or spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy. In this review article we summarize the recent applications of the SANS method to study magnetism and magnetic materials. This includes a wide range of materials classes, from nanomagnetic systems such as soft magnetic Fe-based nanocomposites, hard magnetic Nd−Fe−B-based permanent magnets, magnetic steels, ferrofluids, nanoparticles, and magnetic oxides, to more fundamental open issues in contemporary condensed matter physics such as skyrmion crystals, noncollinar magnetic structures in noncentrosymmetric compounds, magnetic/electronic phase separation, and vortex lattices in type-II superconductors. Special attention is paid not only to the vast variety of magnetic materials and problems where SANS has provided direct insight, but also to the enormous progress made regarding the micromagnetic simulation of magnetic neutron scattering.


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