Journal of Applied Physics

Giant magnetoresistance at low fields in [(NixFe 1-x)yAg1-y]/Ag multilayers prepared by molecular-beam epitaxy

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The structural and magnetic properties of [111]-oriented multilayers comprising ferromagnetic films of Permalloy-silver alternating with Ag spacer films are described. The multilayers are grown by molecular-beam epitaxy on Pt(111) seed films on sapphire (0001) substrates at temperatures in the range 25-175°C. For a series of multilayers with similar bilayer periods (≅50 Å) the magnetoresistance (MR) is found to be strongly dependent on both growth temperature and subsequent annealing temperature. The multilayers exhibit a negative magnetoresistance in the as-grown state which more than doubles when the growth temperature is increased from 25 to 100°C; however, the highest MR (peak 5.6%; maximum slope 0.4% per Oe) is obtained by annealing (at 400°C) multilayers grown at 100°C. The primary effects of annealing are an improvement of structural order, partial segregation of Ag from the ferromagnetic films into adjacent Ag films, a slight decrease in laminar order, and a reduction in long-wavelength roughness of the multilayer interfaces. No evidence is found for discontinuities in the magnetic layers with the highest MR.