Interface effects in ultra-thin films: Magnetic and chemical properties
AdvisorFalco, Charles M.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractWhen the thickness of a magnetic layer is comparable to (or smaller than) the electron mean free path, the interface between magnetic and non-magnetic layers becomes very important factor to determine magnetic properties of the ultra-thin films. The quality of interface can enhance (or reduce) the desired properties. Several interesting physical phenomena were studied using these interface effects. The magnetic anisotropy of ultra-thin Co films is studied as function of non-magnetic underlayer thickness and non-magnetic overlayer materials using ex situ Brillouin light scattering (BLS). I observed that perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) increases with underlayer thickness and saturates after 5 ML. This saturation can be understood as a relaxation of the in-plane lattice parameter of Au(111) on top of Cu(111) to its bulk value. For the overlayer study, Cu, Al, and Au are used. An Au overlayer gives the largest PMA due to the largest in-plane lattice mismatch between Co and Au. An unusual effect was found by adding an additional layer on top of the Au overlayer. An additional Al capping layer on top of the Au overlayer reduces the PMA significantly. The possible explanation is that the misfit strain at the interface between the Al and the Au can be propagated through the Au layer to affect the magnetic properties of Co even though the in-plane lattice mismatch is less than 1%. Another interesting problem in interface interdiffusion and thermal stability in magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) structures is studied using X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). Since XPS is a very chemically sensitive technique, it allows us to monitor interface interdiffusion of the MTJ structures as-deposited and during post-deposition processing. For the plasma-oxidized samples, Fe only participates in the oxidation reduction process. In contrast to plasma-oxidized samples, there were no noticeable chemical shifts as-deposited and during post-deposition processing in air-oxidized samples. However, peak intensity variations were observed due to interface interdiffusion.
Degree ProgramGraduate College