Indexed on: 17 Mar '06Published on: 17 Mar '06Published in: Physics - Mesoscopic Systems and Quantum Hall Effect
We study electron transport through a domain wall in a ferromagnetic nanowire subject to spin-dependent scattering. A scattering matrix formalism is developed to address both coherent and incoherent transport properties. The coherent case corresponds to elastic scattering by static defects, which is dominant at low temperatures, while the incoherent case provides a phenomenological description of the inelastic scattering present in real physical systems at room temperature. It is found that disorder scattering increases the amount of spin-mixing of transmitted electrons, reducing the adiabaticity. This leads, in the incoherent case, to a reduction of conductance through the domain wall as compared to a uniformly magnetized region which is similar to the giant magnetoresistance effect. In the coherent case, a reduction of weak localization, together with a suppression of spin-reversing scattering amplitudes, leads to an enhancement of conductance due to the domain wall in the regime of strong disorder. The total effect of a domain wall on the conductance of a nanowire is studied by incorporating the disordered regions on either side of the wall. It is found that spin-dependent scattering in these regions increases the domain wall magnetoconductance as compared to the effect found by considering only the scattering inside the wall. This increase is most dramatic in the narrow wall limit, but remains significant for wide walls.