Visualisation of magnetic domain structures and magnetisation processes in Goss-oriented, high permeability steels using neutron grating interferometry

Industrial transformers cores are built from stacked sheets of an iron silicon alloy, called laminations. The magnetic domain structures of these highly anisotropic electrical steels with a sharp (110)[001]-texture, the so-called Gosstexture, determines the magnetic properties of transformers. Commonly used investigation techniques for these laminations are inductive B-H-measurements. This technique reveals global magnetic properties such as hysteresis, remanence, saturation and losses. Locally resolved information about the underlying domain structure cannot be obtained. In this thesis, the neutron grating interferometer (nGI) is used to investigate the domain structures in Goss-oriented (GO) electrical steels at the Swiss Spallation Neutron Source using the cold neutron imaging facility ICON. In contrast to the attenuation based transmission image, the dark-field image (DFI) is related to multiple refraction of unpolarised neutrons at magnetic domain walls. Thereby the use of the DFI allows for the visualisation of bulk magnetic domain structures in two and three dimensions with a spatial resolution of down to 70 um in a field of view of 64mm x 64mm. The DFI is used for the visualisation of the locally resolved response of the bulk magnetic domain structures under the influence of externally applied magnetic fields. In the first part, the domain formation and growth along the initial magnetisation curve (0-6000 A/m) up to saturation in static DC magnetic fields was studied. For decreasing field values, the visualisation of the recurrence of the hysteretic domain structure down to the remanent (0 A/m) state is given. A correlation of the grain orientation and the corresponding basic and supplementary domain structure is given. In the second part, the DFI is used to investigate the response of magnetic domain walls to dynamic AC magnetic excitations. The visualisation of the domain wall motion under influence of alternating magnetic fields is performed. In detail, scans combining varying levels of an offset DC (0-30 A/m), oscillation amplitude A (0-1500 A/m), and oscillation frequency f (0-200 Hz) are conducted. By increasing the amplitude while maintaining constant values of DC and f, the transition from a frozen domain wall structure to a mobile one is recorded. Vice versa, increasing f while keeping A and DC constant led to the reverse transition from a mobile domain wall structure into a frozen one. It is shown that varying both, A and f shifts the position of transition region. Higher frequencies require higher oscillation amplitudes to overcome the freezing. The DFI allows for the analysis of the laminations coatings impact to the magnetic structures. To visualise the stress effect of the coating to the underlying domain formation an uncoated lamination is investigated with stepwise increasing applied external tensile stresses up to 20MPa. The domain configurations of the intermediate stress states are imaged and the original domain structure of the coated state is reproduced. To verify the results, complementary experiments using Kerr microscopy, Faraday imaging, small-angle neutron scattering and Laue X-ray diffraction were performed. The here presented findings allow for new insights into macromagnetism and enable new approaches in the field of descriptive models for bulk macromagnetism. Furthermore the results have the potential to further improve the properties of GO-steels used in industrial transformer applications.

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