Sensitivity of twin boundary movement to sample orientation and magnetic field direction in Ni-Mn-Ga
When applying a magnetic field parallel or perpendicular to the long edge of a parallelepiped Ni-Mn-Ga stick, twin boundaries move instantaneously or gradually through the sample. We evaluate the sample shape dependence on twin boundary motion with a micromagnetics computational study of magnetic domain structures and their energies. Due to the sample shape, the demagnetization factor varies with the direction of the external magnetic field. When the external magnetic field is applied perpendicular to the long edge of the sample, i.e. in the direction in which the demagnetizing field is highest, the magnetic energy intermittently increases when the strength of the applied magnetic field is low. This energy gain hinders the twin boundary motion and results in a gradual switching, i.e. a gradual magnetization reversal as the applied magnetic field is increased. The formation of 180° magnetic domains offsets this effect partially. In contrast, when the applied magnetic field is parallel to the long edge of the sample, i.e. in the direction in which the demagnetizing field is lowest, the energy decreases with each subsequent magnetization domain reversal and the twin boundary moves instantaneously with ongoing switching. The actuation mode with the field parallel to the long sample edge lends itself for on-off actuators whereas the actuation mode with the field perpendicular to the long sample edge lends itself to gradual positioning devices.