Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
Physics and Astronomy
This dissertation concerns research into the growth and characterization fluoride thin films by molecular beam epitaxy. After a discussion of relevant background material and experimental procedures in the first two chapters, we study exchange bias in magnetic multilayers incorporating the uniaxial antiferromagnet FeF2, grown to varying thicknesses, sandwiched between ferromagnetic Co layers with fixed thicknesses of 5 and 20 nm. Several bilayers with only the 20 nm thick Co layer were grown for comparative study. The samples were grown on Al2O3 (112¯0) substrates at room temperature. In-situ RHEED and x-ray diffraction indicated the films were polycrystalline. The films were determined to have low surface and interlayer roughness, as determined by AFM and x-ray reflectivity. After field-cooling to below the Neel temperature of FeF2 in a magnetic field of 1 kOe, magnetic hysteresis loops were measured as a function of temperature. We found that both layers had a negative exchange bias, with the exchange bias of the thinner layer larger than that of the thicker layer. In addition, the coercivity below the blocking temperature TB of the thinner layer was significantly larger than that of the thick layer, even though the coercivity of the two layers was the same for T > TB. The exchange bias effect, manifested by a shift in these hysteresis loops, showed a strong dependence on the thickness of the antiferromagnet. Anisotropic magnetoresistance measurements provided additional insight into the magnetization reversal mechanism within the ferromagnets. The thickness dependent exchange anisotropy of trilayer and bilayer samples is explained by adapting a random field model to the antiferromagnet/ferromagnet interface.;Finally, We investigate the temperature dependent growth, as well as the magnetic and ferroelectric properties of thin films of the multiferroic compounds BaMF4, where M = Fe, Co, Ni. The films were grown to thicknesses of 50 or 100 nm on single crystal Al2O3 (0001) substrates. X-ray diffraction showed that this family of films grew epitaxially in the (010) orientation, but were twinned in the plane, with three domain orientations rotated by 120 degrees relative to one another. Measurements of the remanent hysteresis via interdigitated electrodes showed that the compounds M = Co, and Ni were ferroelectric, but no switching behavior was observed in the Fe system at electric fields up to 400 kV/cm. Measurements of the field-cooled and zero-field-cooled magnetic moment confirmed low temperature antiferromagnetic behavior, and found new weak ferromagnetic phases induced by strain.
Johnson, Trent A., "Fluoride Thin Films: from Exchange Bias to Multferroicity" (2015). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 5896.