Epitaxial thin film deposition of magnetostrictive materials and its effect on magnetic anisotropy
McClure, Adam Marc
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Magnetostriction means that the dimensions of a material depend on its magnetization. The primary goal of this dissertation was to understand the effect of magnetostriction on the magnetic anisotropy of single crystal magnetostrictive thin films, where the epitaxial pinning of the material to a substrate could inhibit its conversion to new dimensions. In order to address this goal, several Fe-based binary alloys were deposited onto various substrates by molecular beam epitaxy. The samples were characterized by an array of techniques including electron diffraction, Rutherford backscattering, vibrating sample magnetometry, ferromagnetic resonance, and x-ray absorption spectroscopies. The attempted growths of crystalline magnetostrictive thin films resulted in successful depositions of Fe 1-xGa x and Fe 1-xZn x. Depositions onto MgO(001) substrates result in an in-plane cubic magnetic anisotropy, as expected from the cubic symmetry of the Fe-based thin films, and a strong out-of-plane uniaxial anisotropy that forces the magnetization to lie in the plane of the films. Depositions onto ZnSe/GaAs(001) substrates feature an additional in-plane uniaxial anisotropy. The magnitudes and signs of the in-plane anisotropies depend on the Ga content. Furthermore, the cubic anisotropy constant of Fe 1-xGa x samples deposited onto MgO substrates switches sign at a lower Ga concentration than is seen in bulk Fe 1-xGa x. The effect on the magnetic anisotropy of depositing a magnetostrictive material as an epitaxial thin film is influenced by the material's magnetostrictive properties and the substrate upon which it is deposited. In particular, pinning a magnetoelastic material to a substrate will modify its cubic anisotropy, and depositions on substrates compliant to an anisotropic strain relaxation may result in a strong in-plane uniaxial anisotropy.