Large coercivity and surface anisotropy in MgO/Co multilayer films

J. W. Cai, S. Okamoto, O. Kitakami, Y. Shimada

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28 Citations (Scopus)


The multilayer films of (30 Å MgO/12-65 Å Co)30 were deposited on oxide-coated Si(100) wafers in a UHV chamber by rf and dc sputtering. Structural analyses reveal that the films with Co layer thickness (tCo) above 16 Å have well-defined layer structure, however, Co layers become discontinuous to some extent when tCo is down to 12 Å. MgO layers are (100) oriented, and Co layers have fcc phase with fcc(200) parallel to MgO(200) when tCo is below 20 Å, but the hcp phase is stabilized in thicker Co layers (25 Å ≤tCo≤65 Å) with hcp(110) parallel to MgO(200). There is no evidence of exchange bias stemming from the oxidation of Co, and all films exhibit planar magnetization. Coercivity of higher than 12 kOe was observed at 10 K for tCo = 12 Å, which is far beyond the effective magnetocrystalline anisotropy field of fcc or hcp Co. The thickness dependence of coercivity at 10 K follows a linear scale as 1/tCo. With the increase of the temperature, the coercivity decreases, and the maximum value at room temperature is about 420 Oe for tCo=25 Å. A proposal to evaluate the surface anisotropy via initial susceptibility measurement along the film normal direction for a film with planar magnetization is presented. Surface anisotropy is thus determined to be about 1.3 erg/cm2 at 10 K and 0.4 erg/cm2 at room temperature with the film normal as the hard axis. Surface anisotropy has been demonstrated to be a dominant term to determine the magnetic behavior of MgO/Co multilayer films, especially at low temperature.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104418
Pages (from-to)1044181-1044187
Number of pages7
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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