Growth and investigation of the Slater-Pauling behavior by x-ray characterization of single crystal bcc Fe x-Mn 1-x thin films on MgO(001)

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Magnetic memory storage industry is always searching for materials that can store, read, and write data ever so faster, with lower power, with accuracy and on denser packaging. The material research was spurred with discovery and successful implementation of Giant Magnetoresistance phenomena into critical components of devices. GMR devices essentially were multilayered thin films of a set of magnetically ordered metals. Fe-Mn thin films were used to create one of its moment pinning layers. Fcc Fe-Mn thin films were studied enthusiastically for their AFM properties but very little was known about the rare bcc structured single crystals. Bcc Fe-Mn was found to be ferromagnetic in parts of phase diagram of Fe-Mn. The magnetic moment of alloys usually follows a regular linear trend based upon electronic configuration of constituent elements, known as Slater-Pauling curve. While most alloys follow the trend, bcc Fe-Mn binary alloys show a dramatic collapse in the bulk magnetic moment, as concentration of Mn is varied. In this work, we successfully fabricate bcc single crystal thin film of Fe-Mn on MgO(001) substrate by Molecular Beam Epitaxy method. We confirm using Reflection High Energy Electron Diffraction that, the bcc phase of Fe-Mn thin film is achieved, albeit being a forced structure, stable up to 35% of Mn concentration. X-ray absorption spectra of individual elements were used to confirm the compositions of Fe-Mn films and x-ray magnetic circular dichroism was used to track the elemental magnetic moment as the composition was varied. We found that the magnetic moment of Fe drops faster than expected and Mn has very small identical moment in all compositions. We also successfully created a compositionally graded Fe-Mn sample in MBE and spatially mapped its Fe moment by around the critical composition. The mechanism for collapse of magnetic moment over a spread of composition of Mn is a very complex problem yet we provide our experimental findings of unprecedented resolution to confirm that bcc Fe-Mn can be structurally stable up to 35% Mn and that the magnetic moment of the alloy starts with onset of Fe moment at 14% Mn and is complete by 17% Mn.




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