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Atomic-Scale Interface Magnetism for Spintronics

Abstract : Recognising that the characterisation of actual interfaces in magnetic multilayer systems will provide valuable insight for the integration of spintronics in practical devices, a study of interface effects in various structures is presented. Magnetometry measurements are performed for a range of Fe thicknesses (0.4 - 23 nm) grown by molecular beam epitaxy on GaAs and InAs substrates in order to determine the factors governing the evolution of the magnetic moment of epitaxial Fe grown on a zinc-blende semiconductor. A greater reduction of the Fe magnetic moment is observed for films grown on InAs as compared to GaAs, as the Fe films reach a bulk-like moment (within 10% deviation) at a thickness of ~5.2 nm and ~2.2 nm, respectively. From this direct comparative study it is concluded that interface and interdiffusion effects are the dominant mechanisms influencing the value of the magnetic moment for ultra-thin Fe films on GaAs and InAs. Spin injection at this interface is performed, by detecting optical polarisation in the oblique Hanle geometry from a Fe/AlGaAs/GaAs spin-light emitting diode structure. The electrical and magnetic properties of the system are presented, and a ~1% injection polarisation at room temperature, rising to ~4% at 77 K is reported. A study of the deposition and growth of MgO thin (3 - 39 nm) films in conjunction with magnetic layers is also performed. Crystallinity of MgO grown on GaAs is obtained, and epitaxial growth of Fe and Co on MgO is demonstrated. Polarised neutron reflectivity results again indicate a slight decrease in Fe and Co magnetic moments due to interfacial oxide layers. MgO is also incorporated in a pseudo-spin-valve structure which demonstrates epitaxy-induced magneto-crystalline anisotropy. It is concluded that the interface quality is a critical parameter for spintronic devices. Atomic-scale defects and intermixing in real samples mean that current theoretical estimates of ~100% injection efficiency in perfect systems remain unattainable. However by increasing atomic-level structural control of interfaces, a substantial increase in efficiency might be achieved, similarly to the recent breakthrough in tunnelling magneto-resistance ratios which have reached 1000%.
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Contributor : Jean-Baptiste Laloë <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 5, 2007 - 12:20:22 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, January 19, 2019 - 1:58:02 PM
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  • HAL Id : tel-00151803, version 1


Jean-Baptiste Laloë. Atomic-Scale Interface Magnetism for Spintronics. Condensed Matter [cond-mat]. University of Cambridge, 2007. English. ⟨tel-00151803⟩



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