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1.  Structural and thermoelectric properties of TMGa3 (TM = Fe, Co) thin films 
Based on chemically synthesized powders of FeGa3, CoGa3, as well as of a Fe0.75Co0.25Ga3 solid solution, thin films (typical thickness 40 nm) were fabricated by flash evaporation onto various substrates held at ambient temperature. In this way, the chemical composition of the powders could be transferred one-to-one to the films as demonstrated by Rutherford backscattering experiments. The relatively low deposition temperature necessary for conserving the composition leads, however, to ‘X-ray amorphous’ film structures with immediate consequences on their transport properties: A practically temperature-independent electrical resistivity of ρ = 200 μΩ·cm for CoGa3 and an electrical resistivity of about 600 μΩ·cm with a small negative temperature dependence for FeGa3. The observed values and temperature dependencies are typical of high-resistivity metallic glasses. This is especially surprising in the case of FeGa3, which as crystalline bulk material exhibits a semiconducting behavior, though with a small gap of 0.3 eV. Also the thermoelectric performance complies with that of metallic glasses: Small negative Seebeck coefficients of the order of −6 μV/K at 300 K with almost linear temperature dependence in the range 10 K ≤ T ≤ 300 K.
PMCID: PMC3740773  PMID: 23946915
amorphous metal films; energy related; intermetallic compounds; nanomaterials; Seebeck coefficient; thermoelectric properties; thin metal films
2.  Tuning the properties of magnetic thin films by interaction with periodic nanostructures 
The most important limitation for a significant increase of the areal storage density in magnetic recording is the superparamagnetic effect. Below a critical grain size of the used CoCrPt exchange-decoupled granular films the information cannot be stored for a reasonable time (typically ten years) due to thermal fluctuations arbitrary flipping of the magnetization direction. An alternative approach that may provide higher storage densities is the use of so-called percolated media, in which defect structures are imprinted in an exchange-coupled magnetic film. Such percolated magnetic films are investigated in the present work. We employ preparation routes that are based on (i) self-assembly of Au nanoparticles and (ii) homogeneous size-reduction of self-assembled polystyrene particles. On such non-close-packed nanostructures thin Fe films or Co/Pt multilayers are grown with in-plane and out-of-plane easy axis of magnetization. The impact of the particles on the magnetic switching behavior is measured by both integral magnetometry and magnetic microscopy techniques. We observe enhanced coercive fields while the switching field distribution is broadened compared to thin-film reference samples. It appears possible to tailor the magnetic domain sizes down to the width of an unperturbed domain wall in a continuous film, and moreover, we observe pinning and nucleation at or close to the imprinted defect structures.
PMCID: PMC3557708  PMID: 23365796
colloidal lithography; magnetic data storage; magnetic nanostructures; percolated films
3.  Nanoscaled alloy formation from self-assembled elemental Co nanoparticles on top of Pt films 
The thermally activated formation of nanoscale CoPt alloys was investigated, after deposition of self-assembled Co nanoparticles on textured Pt(111) and epitaxial Pt(100) films on MgO(100) and SrTiO3(100) substrates, respectively. For this purpose, metallic Co nanoparticles (diameter 7 nm) were prepared with a spacing of 100 nm by deposition of precursor-loaded reverse micelles, subsequent plasma etching and reduction on flat Pt surfaces. The samples were then annealed at successively higher temperatures under a H2 atmosphere, and the resulting variations of their structure, morphology and magnetic properties were characterized. We observed pronounced differences in the diffusion and alloying of Co nanoparticles on Pt films with different orientations and microstructures. On textured Pt(111) films exhibiting grain sizes (20–30 nm) smaller than the particle spacing (100 nm), the formation of local nanoalloys at the surface is strongly suppressed and Co incorporation into the film via grain boundaries is favoured. In contrast, due to the absence of grain boundaries on high quality epitaxial Pt(100) films with micron-sized grains, local alloying at the film surface was established. Signatures of alloy formation were evident from magnetic investigations. Upon annealing to temperatures up to 380 °C, we found an increase both of the coercive field and of the Co orbital magnetic moment, indicating the formation of a CoPt phase with strongly increased magnetic anisotropy compared to pure Co. At higher temperatures, however, the Co atoms diffuse into a nearby surface region where Pt-rich compounds are formed, as shown by element-specific microscopy.
PMCID: PMC3190617  PMID: 22003453
alloy; Co; CoPt; epitaxy; HRTEM; magnetometry; nanoparticles; Pt; XMCD
4.  Effect of large mechanical stress on the magnetic properties of embedded Fe nanoparticles 
Magnetic nanoparticles are promising candidates for next generation high density magnetic data storage devices. Data storage requires precise control of the magnetic properties of materials, in which the magnetic anisotropy plays a dominant role. Since the total magneto-crystalline anisotropy energy scales with the particle volume, the storage density in media composed of individual nanoparticles is limited by the onset of superparamagnetism. One solution to overcome this limitation is the use of materials with extremely large magneto-crystalline anisotropy. In this article, we follow an alternative approach by using magneto-elastic interactions to tailor the total effective magnetic anisotropy of the nanoparticles. By applying large biaxial stress to nanoparticles embedded in a non-magnetic film, it is demonstrated that a significant modification of the magnetic properties can be achieved. The stress is applied to the nanoparticles through expansion of the substrate during hydrogen loading. Experimental evidence for stress induced magnetic effects is presented based on temperature-dependent magnetization curves of superparamagnetic Fe particles. The results show the potential of the approach for adjusting the magnetic properties of nanoparticles, which is essential for application in future data storage media.
PMCID: PMC3148048  PMID: 21977439
hydrogen in metals; magnetic anisotropy; magnetic data storage; magneto-elastic interactions; nanoparticles; superparamagnetism; thin films
5.  Preparation and characterization of supported magnetic nanoparticles prepared by reverse micelles 
Monatomic (Fe, Co) and bimetallic (FePt and CoPt) nanoparticles were prepared by exploiting the self-organization of precursor loaded reverse micelles. Achievements and limitations of the preparation approach are critically discussed. We show that self-assembled metallic nanoparticles can be prepared with diameters d = 2–12 nm and interparticle distances D = 20–140 nm on various substrates. Structural, electronic and magnetic properties of the particle arrays were characterized by several techniques to give a comprehensive view of the high quality of the method. For Co nanoparticles, it is demonstrated that magnetostatic interactions can be neglected for distances which are at least 6 times larger than the particle diameter. Focus is placed on FePt alloy nanoparticles which show a huge magnetic anisotropy in the L10 phase, however, this is still less by a factor of 3–4 when compared to the anisotropy of the bulk counterpart. A similar observation was also found for CoPt nanoparticles (NPs). These results are related to imperfect crystal structures as revealed by HRTEM as well as to compositional distributions of the prepared particles. Interestingly, the results demonstrate that the averaged effective magnetic anisotropy of FePt nanoparticles does not strongly depend on size. Consequently, magnetization stability should scale linearly with the volume of the NPs and give rise to a critical value for stability at ambient temperature. Indeed, for diameters above 6 nm such stability is observed for the current FePt and CoPt NPs. Finally, the long-term conservation of nanoparticles by Au photoseeding is presented.
PMCID: PMC3045932  PMID: 21977392
Co; CoPt; core–shell particles; FePt; magnetic anisotropy; magnetic particles; plasma etching; reverse micelles; self-assembly

Results 1-6 (6)