NiFe2O4(111) ultrathin films (3–5 nm) have been grown by oxygen-assisted molecular beam epitaxy and integrated as effective spin-filter barriers. Structural and magnetic characterizations have been performed in order to investigate the presence of defects that could limit the spin filtering efficiency. These analyses have revealed the full strain relaxation of the layers with a cationic order in agreement with the inverse spinel structure but also the presence of antiphase boundaries. A spin-polarization up to +25% has been directly measured by the Meservey-Tedrow technique in Pt(111)/NiFe2O4(111)/γ-Al2O3(111)/Al tunnel junctions. The unexpected positive sign and relatively small value of the spin-polarization are discussed, in comparison with predictions and previous indirect tunnelling magnetoresistance measurements.

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