Physical Review B - CMMP

Temperature and thickness dependence at the onset of perpendicular magnetic anisotropy in FePd thin films sputtered on MgO(001)

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The onset of chemical order (L 10 phase) and perpendicular magnetic anisotropy in FePd(001) thin films sputtered on MgO(001) at temperatures from room temperature to 700°C and thickness between 1.4 and 22 nm are investigated. It is found that the formation of the FePd ordered phase exhibiting high perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (L 10 phase with the c axis in the growth direction) is affected by a two-dimensional to three-dimensional growth mode transition with increasing deposition temperatures, hindering higher chemical ordering at moderate and high temperatures. For 22-nm-thick films, the ordered phase is only obtained in a narrow range of growth temperature centered at 450°C. This fact, together with strong surface morphology dependence on the deposition temperature, determines the magnetic and magneto-optical properties of the studied system. No dependence of the ordering degree on film thickness is found for films with thicknesses of 3, 7 and 22 nm grown at 450°C, with a constant value indicating that chemical ordering occurs since the early stages of growth and does not improve as the growth proceeds. The samples consist of chemically ordered nanostructures that range in size from 30 to 200 nm average diameter and 0.5-30 nm height as the film becomes thicker, and exhibit perpendicular magnetic anisotropy indicating that the c axis is parallel to the direction of growth. The largest coercive field (7 kOe) corresponds to the sample with nano-sized particles, and the coercivity drastically decreases down to 1 kOe as percolation sets in. © 2006 The American Physical Society.