Relation between microscopic interactions and macroscopic properties in ferroics

The driving force in materials to spontaneously form states with magnetic or electric order is of fundamental importance for basic research and device technology. The macroscopic properties and functionalities of these ferroics depend on the size, distribution and morphology of domains; that is, of regions across which such uniform order is maintained. Typically, extrinsic factors such as strain profiles, grain size or annealing procedures control the size and shape of the domains, whereas intrinsic parameters are often difficult to extract due to the complexity of a processed material. Here, we achieve this separation by building artificial crystals of pla- nar nanomagnets that are coupled by well-defined, tuneable and competing magnetic interactions. Aside from analysing the domain configurations, we uncover fundamental intrinsic correlations between the microscopic interactions establish- ing magnetically compensated order and the macroscopic manifestations of these interactions in basic physical proper- ties. Experiment and simulations reveal how competing inter- actions can be exploited to control ferroic hallmark properties such as the size and morphology of domains, topological prop- erties of domain walls or their thermal mobility.