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The correlation between mechanical stress and magnetic anisotropy in ultrathin films

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The impact of stress-driven structural transitions and of film strain on the magnetic properties of nm ferromagnetic films is discussed. The stress-induced bending of film-substrate composites is analysed to derive information on film stress due to lattice mismatch or due to surface-stress effects. The magneto-elastic coupling in epitaxial films is determined directly from the magnetostrictive bending of the substrate. The combination of stress measurements with magnetic investigations by the magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) reveals the modification of the magnetic anisotropy by film stress. Stress-strain relations are derived for various epitaxial orientations to facilitate the analysis of the substrate curvature. Biaxial film stress and magneto-elastic coupling coefficients are measured in epitaxial Fe films in situ on W single-crystal substrates. Tremendous film stress of more than 10 GPa is measured in pseudomorphic Fe layers, and the important role of film stress as a driving force for the formation of misfit distortions and for inducing changes of the growth mode in monolayer thin films is presented. The direct measurement of the magneto-elastic coupling in epitaxial films proves that the magnitude and sign of the magneto-elastic coupling deviate from the respective bulk value. Even a small film strain of order 0.1% is found to induce a significant change of the effective magneto-elastic coupling coefficient. This peculiar behaviour is ascribed to a second-order strain dependence of the magneto-elastic energy density, in contrast to the linear strain dependence that is valid for bulk samples.

Document Type: Miscellaneous

Publication date: January 1, 1999


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