Journal of Materials Research

X-ray depth profiling of iron oxide thin films

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A nominally ϒ-Fe2O3thin film (oxidized from an Fe3O4 film) has been structurally depth profiled using x-ray scattering in a grazing incidence, asymmetric Bragg geometry. By varying the grazing incidence angle, the x-ray penetration depth is varied from tens of Angstroms to several thousand Angstroms, slightly larger than the film thickness. At small incidence angles a diffraction pattern characteristic of α-Fe2O3 is observed, while at larger angles the pattern is predominantly from ϒ-Fe2O3, showing that there is a surface layer of α-Fe2O3. These results are quantified and the thickness of the a phase found to be 90 A. The presence of the a phase explains a nonferromagnetic layer observed previously. These data together with magnetic and chemical data suggest that the nonferromagnetic layer forms during oxidation of the Fe3O4 film due to outward diffusion of Fe ions and their subsequent oxidation to form α-Fe2O3. © 1988, Materials Research Society. All rights reserved.