The reversal mechanisms of graded anisotropy FePtCu films have been investigated by alternating gradient magnetometer (AGM) and magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) measurements with first-order reversal curve (FORC) techniques. The AGM-FORC analysis, which clearly shows the presence of soft and hard components, is unable to resolve how these phases are distributed throughout the film thickness. MOKE-FORC measurements, which preferentially probe the surface of the film, reveal that the soft components are indeed located toward the top surface. Combining AGM-FORC with the inherent surface sensitivity of MOKE-FORC analysis allows for a comprehensive analysis of heterogeneous systems such as graded materials. (C) 2010 American Institute of Physics. [doi:10.1063/1.3515907]
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