Information transfer by vector spin chirality in finite magnetic chains

Phys Rev Lett. 2012 May 11;108(19):197204. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.197204. Epub 2012 May 7.


Vector spin chirality is one of the fundamental characteristics of complex magnets. For a one-dimensional spin-spiral state it can be interpreted as the handedness, or rotational sense of the spiral. Here, using spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy, we demonstrate the occurrence of an atomic-scale spin spiral in finite individual bi-atomic Fe chains on the (5×1)-Ir(001) surface. We show that the broken inversion symmetry at the surface promotes one direction of the vector spin chirality, leading to a unique rotational sense of the spiral in all chains. Correspondingly, changes in the spin direction of one chain end can be probed tens of nanometers away, suggesting a new way of transmitting information about the state of magnetic objects on the nanoscale.

MeSH terms

  • Anisotropy
  • Iron / chemistry*
  • Magnetics*
  • Microscopy, Scanning Tunneling
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Nanostructures / chemistry


  • Iron