Controlling exchange bias in Co-CoOx nanoparticles by oxygen content

Preprint English OPEN
Kovylina, Miroslavna ; del Muro, Montserrat Garcia ; Konstantinovic, Zorica ; Varela, Manuel ; Iglesias, Oscar ; Labarta, Amilcar ; Batlle, Xavier (2009)

We report on the occurrence of exchange bias on laser-ablated granular thin films composed of Co nanoparticles embedded in amorphous zirconia matrix. The deposition method allows controlling the degree of oxidation of the Co particles by tuning the oxygen pressure at the vacuum chamber (from 2x10^{-5} to 10^{-1} mbar). The nature of the nanoparticles embedded in the nonmagnetic matrix is monitored from metallic, ferromagnetic (FM) Co to antiferromagnetic (AFM) CoOx, with a FM/AFM intermediate regime for which the percentage of the AFM phase can be increased at the expense of the FM phase, leading to the occurrence of exchange bias in particles of about 2 nm in size. For oxygen pressure of about 10-3 mbar the ratio between the FM and AFM phases is optimum with an exchange bias field about 900 Oe at 1.8 K. The mutual exchange coupling between the AFM and FM is also at the origin of the induced exchange anisotropy on the FM leading to high irreversible hysteresis loops, and the blocking of the AFM clusters due to proximity to the FM phase.
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