R-Fe-O (R = rare earth) compounds have recently attracted high interest as potential new multiferroic materials. Here, we report a method based on the solid-state reaction between Er2O3 and Fe layers, respectively grown by atomic layer deposition and chemical vapor deposition, to synthesize Er-Fe-O thin films. The reaction is induced by thermal annealing and evolution of the formed phases is followed by in situ grazing incidence X-ray diffraction. Dominant ErFeO3 and ErFe2O4 phases develop following subsequent thermal annealing processes at 850 °C in air and N2. Structural, chemical, and morphological characterization of the layers are conducted through X-ray diffraction and reflectivity, time-of-flight secondary ion-mass spectrometry, and atomic force microscopy. Magnetic properties are evaluated by magnetic force microscopy, conversion electron Mössbauer spectroscopy, and vibrating sample magnetometer, being consistent with the presence of the phases identified by X-ray diffraction. Our results constitute a first step toward the use of cost-effective chemical methods for the synthesis of this class of multiferroic thin films.

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