We report on the effect of cap layer material on the magnetic properties and aging of the Fe-NW (nanowire) arrays grown on oxidized vicinal Si (111) templates using atomic terrace low angle shadowing technique. We find that the Fe-NW arrays capped with metallic (Ag) layers do not show any sign of degradation with aging, whereas NW arrays capped with insulating dielectric (MgO) layers show degradation of the saturation magnetization and an out-of-plane unidirectional anisotropy. We find that this out-of-plane unidirectional anisotropy competes with the shape anisotropy which is still the dominant anisotropy. The origin of this additional anisotropy is explained on the basis of oxidation of Fe due to the presence of MgO that leads to the formation of an oxide interlayer. This oxide interlayer forms at the expense of NW materials, leading to reduction in the thickness of some of the Fe-NWs within the array, and orients their magnetic moments out-of-plane. The reduction in NW thickness and the presence of Fe-O interlayer facilitates stabilization of this anisotropy. Our model is supported by x-ray absorption spectroscopy studies performed as a function of aging, which suggests that the oxide interlayer thickness increases with aging.
Observation of out-of-plane unidirectional anisotropy in MgO-capped planar nanowire arrays of Fe
S. K. Arora, B. J. O'Dowd, D. M. Polishchuk, A. I. Tovstolytkin, P. Thakur, N. B. Brookes, B. Ballesteros, P. Gambardella, I. V. Shvets; Observation of out-of-plane unidirectional anisotropy in MgO-capped planar nanowire arrays of Fe. J. Appl. Phys. 7 October 2013; 114 (13): 133903. https://doi.org/10.1063/1.4823514
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