Anomalous thickness-dependent strain states and strain-tunable magnetization in Zn-doped ferrite epitaxial films

Yang, Y. J.; Yang, M. M.; Luo, Z. L.; Hu, C. S.; Bao, J.; Huang, H. L.; Zhang, S.; Wang, J. W.; Li, P. S.; Liu, Y.; Zhao, Y. G.; Chen, X. C.; Pan, G. Q.; Jiang, T.; Liu, Y. K.; Li, X. G.; Gao, C.
May 2014
Journal of Applied Physics;2014, Vol. 115 Issue 17, p173505-1
Academic Journal
A series of ZnxFe3-xO4 (ZFO, x=0.4) thin films were epitaxially deposited on single-crystal (001)-SrTiO3 (STO) substrates by radio frequency magnetron sputtering. The anomalous thickness-dependent strain states of ZFO films were found, i.e., a tensile in-plane strain exists in the thinner ZFO film and which monotonously turns into compressive in the thicker films. Considering the lattice constant of bulk ZFO is bigger than that of STO, this strain state cannot be explained in the conventional framework of lattice-mismatch-induced strain in the hetero-epitaxial system. This unusual phenomenon is proposed to be closely related to the Volmer-Weber film growth mode in the thinner films and incorporation of the interstitial atoms into the island's boundaries during subsequent epitaxial growth of the thicker films. The ZFO/STO epitaxial film is found in the nature of magnetic semiconductor by transport measurements. The in-plane magnetization of the ZFO/STO films is found to increase as the in-plane compressive strain develops, which is further proved in the (001)-ZFO/PMN-PT film where the film strain state can be in situ controlled with applied electric field. This compressive-strain-enhanced magnetization can be attributed to the strain-mediated electric-field-induced in-plane magnetic anisotropy field enhancement. The above results indicate that strain engineering on magnetic oxide semiconductor ZFO films is promising for novel oxide-electronic devices.


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