Defect induced magnetic properties of CoO nanoparticles produced via mechanical ball milling have been assessed by detailed magnetic measurements. A progressive decrease in the particle size and a concomitant increase in the induced strain have been observed with the milling times. The mechanically milled nanoparticles of CoO exhibit anomalous magnetic properties such as FM hysteresis when compared with the unmilled CoO sample. The presence of weak ferromagnetism, with a highest value of magnetization of 0.532 emu/g at 10 K in the 100 h milled sample, is attributed to the uncompensated surface spins resulting from induced surface defects via mechanical milling. The ZFC coercive force, measured at 10 K, increases with milling time reaching a maximum value of 1066 Oe for the 100 h milled sample. The temperature dependent field-cooled (FC) and zero-field-cooled (ZFC) magnetic measurements indicate a presence of an exchange bias field arising from uncompensated moments generated by mechanical strain and the antiferromagnetic (AFM) core. The exchange bias field measured at 10 K reaches a value 210 Oe for the 50 h milled sample and decreases upon prolonged milling. The exchange bias field vanishes at a temperature ∼ 200 K, a temperature much lower than the Neel temperature of CoO (TN ∼ 291 K). The observed anomalous magnetic behavior of CoO could be interpreted in terms of the exchanged bias FM-AFM model.
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