Recent advances in spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) experiments allow the determination of complex (non-collinear) surface magnetic structures (like spin-spirals, skyrmions) in real space. Motivated by these advancements, there is a strong need for theoretical understanding of the observed magnetic structures. In the first part of the talk I present recent theoretical results on the formation of a diversity of complex magnetic structures in thin films obtained by a combination of ab initio and spin dynamics calculations .
Understanding STM image contrasts is of crucial importance in surface science and related technologies. In the second part of the talk I present different tip effects on the STM contrast based on first principles calculations, going beyond the Tersoff-Hamann model, e.g., within 3D-WKB tunneling theory . Examples include a prototype frustrated hexagonal antiferromagnet, Cr monolayer on Ag(111) and highly oriented pyrolytic graphite. By comparing STM topographic data between experiment and large scale simulations, we can determine particular tip orientations that are most/least likely present in the STM experiment . Furthermore, I present an extension of Chen's derivative rule for STM simulations including tip-orbital interference effects, and demonstrate the importance of interference effects on the STM contrast for two surface structures: N-doped graphene and a magnetic Mn2H complex on the Ag(111) surface . Finally, the first steps towards the theoretical modeling of high resolution spin transfer torque imaging are presented .
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