Synthesis and characterization of magnetic thin films--exchange bias systems

Wenjie Pang

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    Abstract

    [Truncated abstract] Although exchange bias was discovered more than four decades ago, a satisfactory understanding of every instance of exchange bias observed in experiment has not yet emerged. Understanding exchange bias is complicated by many factors. For example, details of the antiferromagnet interface structure set up during the initial field cooling, thermal activation processes in the ferromagnet and antiferromagnet, and domain formation and domain wall movement in the antiferromagnet are all important in determining features associated with exchange bias. Two exchange bias systems are investigated in this thesis. One is a disordered system: a single layer Co/CoO film with random interfaces prepared by a reactive RF sputtering technique. The other is a ‘model’ system of Fe/KFeF 3 bilayers with compensated interfaces prepared by molecular beam epitaxy (MBE). The central theme of this work is to understand exchange bias and other related magnetic properties in these two very different systems. The Co/CoO exchange bias system studied here is different in structure from conventional exchange bias systems such as bilayer and multilayer systems where interfaces between ferromagnet and antiferromagnet are reasonably well defined. In this Co/CoO system, the Co and CoO is in the form of particles distributed randomly in a sputtered film. The interfaces between the Co and CoO are randomly distributed and may not be continuous over a large length scale. More importantly, the interface area is dependent on the shape and size of the particles and on their distribution. Many unique magnetic properties are related to the random interface in this system. For example, exchange bias and coercivity obtained at low temperatures are very large due to the large interface area between Co and CoO particles. The interface area can be controlled by changing the Co/CoO mass ratio in the film. Unlike in bilayer systems, film thickness in this single layer Co/CoO system turns out not to be critical for exchange bias and coercivity. The independence of film thickness may be technically important. More interestingly, because the interface is random, exchange bias can be setup by field cooling in any direction. Both training and magnetic viscosity effects were studied and provided evidence of thermal activation processes in this Co/CoO system. Training is explained as formation of a domain wall in the CoO with motion limited locally due to limited continuity of Synthesis and Characterization of Magnetic Thin Films - Exchange Bias Systems interfaces between the Co and CoO. Specific magnetization measurements over time were made and studied using viscosity theory. The magnetic viscosity was found to be strongly temperature dependent. There is a broad distribution of blocking temperatures which might be due to a broad distribution of Co particle sizes
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2004

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