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Title: Grazing incidence X-ray scattering from magnetic thin films and nanostructures
Author: Eastwood, David Samuel
ISNI:       0000 0004 2682 5449
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2009
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Grazing incidence scattering of synchrotron x-rays has been used to characterize the structure of magnetic thin films and periodic nanostructures. The combined metal and metal oxide films have been chosen to clarify the effects of growth processing techniques in technologically important magnetic and magnetoresistive thin film materials, and have particular relevance to the magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) class of magnetic sensor. Co/Al2O3 thin films and Co/MgO multilayer thin films have been characterized using x-ray reflectivity and diffuse scatter analysis to explain how preparatory oxidation of the lower ferromagnet in an MTJ can reduce Néel interlayer coupling and improve the consistency of magnetoresistance. Measurements reveal differing effects for Al2O3 and MgO tunnel barrier materials. In Co/Al2O3 systems, preoxidation is found to reduce significantly chemical interdiffusion at the interface between the two layers, implying a more uniform oxidation of the barrier layer. In Co/MgO multilayers, an increased in-plane correlation length of the inherited interface roughness is seen after preoxidation. This implies that preoxidation suppresses the short wavelength undulations on both sides of the tunnel barrier that cause Néel coupling. Grazing incidence in-plane diffraction measurements on epitaxial Fe/MgO/Fe [001] and Fe/Au/MgO/Fe [001] films during annealing to 600 K have shown that, in both cases, the MgO lattice is initially strained towards being commensurate with the iron and gold layers, but relaxes after annealing towards a typical bulk MgO lattice. The iron and gold layers display linear thermal expansion at rates consistent with the bulk material. These in-plane lattice measurements demonstrate how the strain and strain dispersion in an epitaxial MgO barrier layer can be relieved under controlled annealing conditions. Finally, patterned thin film surfaces with submicron periodic symmetries have been studied by grazing incidence x-ray scattering. A novel semi-kinematical theory has been developed into a numerical algorithm capable of simulating the scatter from a wide range of arbitrary and disordered nanoscale arrays. This has allowed key structural parameters including array periodicity, symmetry and array coherence lengths to be extracted from experimental data.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available