Tetragonal Mn3Sn Heusler films with large perpendicular magnetic anisotropy deposited on metallic MnN underlayers using amorphous substrates
Tetragonal Heusler compounds that exhibit large perpendicular magnetic anisotropy are promising materials for advanced spintronic devices. A prerequisite are thin films whose tetragonal axis is oriented perpendicular to the plane of the films. Here we show that highly textured, (001) oriented, tetragonal Mn3Sn layers can be prepared using metallic zinc-blende (ZB) MnN as underlayers. Moreover, we show that these layers can be deposited on amorphous substrates using reactive magnetron sputtering. The ferrimagnetic Mn3Sn layers exhibit perpendicularly magnetized hysteresis loops with coercive fields of ∼2 T. Stoichiometric ZB-MnN underlayers share an "equivalent" Mn-Mn layer at the interface with Mn3Sn, thus promoting their oriented growth. Other nitride underlayers are not effective due to their rock-salt (RS) crystal structure and the absence of Mn. Density functional theory calculations confirm that tetragonal Mn3Sn Heusler films are energetically stable when interfaced with ZB-MnN underlayers and not with any of the other RS nitride underlayers considered here. Such Heusler compounds have much promise as electrodes for magnetic tunnel junction memory elements for deeply scaled magnetic random access memories.