Temperature dependent magnetic coupling between ferromagnetic FeTaC layers in multilayer thin films

Research paper by Akhilesh Kumar Singh, Jen-Hwa Hsu, Alagarsamy Perumal

Indexed on: 16 Mar '16Published on: 24 Feb '16Published in: Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials


We report systematic investigations on temperature dependent magnetic coupling between ferromagnetic FeTaC layers and resulting magnetic properties of multilayer structured [FeTaC (~67 nm)/Ta(x nm)]2/FeTaC(~67 nm)] thin films, which are fabricated directly on thermally oxidized Si substrate. As-deposited amorphous films are post annealed at different annealing temperatures (TA=200, 300 and 400 °C). Structural analyzes reveal that the films annealed at TA≤200 °C exhibit amorphous nature, while the films annealed above 200 °C show nucleation of nanocrystals at TA=300 °C and well-defined α-Fe nanocrystals with size of about 9 nm in amorphous matrix for 400 °C annealed films. Room temperature and temperature dependent magnetic hysteresis (M–H) loops reveal that magnetization reversal behaviors and magnetic properties are strongly depending on spacer layer thickness (x), TA and temperature. A large reduction in coercivity (HC) was observed for the films annealed at 200 °C and correlated to relaxation of stress quenched in during the film deposition. On the other hand, the films annealed at 300 °C exhibit unusual variation of HC(T), i.e., a broad minimum in HC(T) vs T curve. This is caused by change in magnetic coupling between ferromagnetic layers having different microstructure. In addition, the broad minimum in the HC(T) curve shifts from 150 K for x=1 film to 80 K for x=4 film. High-temperature thermomagnetization data show a strong (significant) variation of Curie temperature (TC) with TA (x). The multilayer films annealed at 200 °C exhibit low value of TC with a minimum of 350 K for x=4 film. But, the films annealed at 400 °C show largest TC with a maximum of 869 K for x=1 film. The observed results are discussed on the basis of variations in magnetic couplings between FeTaC layers, which are majorly driven by temperature, spacer layer thickness, annealing temperature and nature of interfaces.

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