Theory of spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy applied to local spins
Physical Review B
We provide a theory for scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy using a spin-polarized tip. It it shown that the tunneling conductance can be partitioned into three separate contributions, a background conductance which is independent of the local spin, a dynamical conductance which is proportional to the local spin moment, and a conductance which is proportional to the noise spectrum of the local spin interactions. The presented theory is applicable to setups with magnetic tip and
... ate in non-collinear arrangement, as well as for non-magnetic situations. The partitioning of the tunneling current suggests a possibility to extract the total spin moment of the local spin from the dynamical conductance. The dynamical conductance suggests a possibility to generate very high frequency spin-dependent ac currents and/or voltages. We also propose a measurement of the dynamical conductance that can be used to determine the character of the effective exchange interaction between individual spins in clusters. The third contribution to the tunneling current is associated with the spin-spin correlations induced by the exchange interaction between the local spin moment and the tunneling electrons. We demonstrate how this term can be used in the analysis of spin excitations recorded in conductance measurements. Finally, we propose to use spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy for detailed studies of the spin excitation spectrum.