Exchange bias has been studied in epitaxial Fe/Ir0.2Mn 0.8 (IrMn) bilayers grown by molecular beam epitaxy on MgO (0 0 1) substrates. The IrMn layer has a chemically disordered fcc structure with an epitaxial relationship of MgO(0 0 1)[1 1 0]//Fe(0 0 1)[1 0 0]//IrMn(0 0 1) [1 1 0]. In this system, exchange bias is induced during growth at room temperature without post-annealing, by applying a small magnetic field, HA, along the bcc Fe [1 0 0] easy axis. The temperature dependence of the exchange bias field and the coercivity along the Fe [1 0 0] easy axis, measured up to approximately half the Néel temperature, shows an exponential decay of these parameters with increasing temperature. The magnetization measured as a function of applied field along the Fe [1 0 0] easy axis results in a negatively shifted hysteresis loop, typical for exchange bias, while when the magnetic field is applied along the Fe [0 1 0] easy axis (perpendicular to H A), a symmetric double-shifted loop is observed. In both cases, the magnetization reversal occurs through two successive events involving nucleation and propagation of domains in which the magnetic moments are perpendicular to each other. We demonstrate that due to the epitaxial growth of the IrMn layer, the unidirectional anisotropy induced by exchange bias is aligned with one of the Fe easy axis directions and, in effect, is added to the four-fold cubic anisotropy of the Fe layer.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Acoustics and Ultrasonics
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films