All-oxide–based synthetic antiferromagnets exhibiting layer-resolved magnetization reversal

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Science  14 Jul 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6347, pp. 191-194
DOI: 10.1126/science.aak9717

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Making an oxide-layered antiferromagnet

Antiferromagnetism, a state of matter where ordered neighboring spins point in opposite directions, can be engineered in layered heterostructures, which affords control over their properties. Doing so in oxide heterostructures is tricky because the necessary ferromagnetism of the constituent layers may not survive thinning to nanometer thicknesses. Chen et al. overcame this materials challenge by finding and growing the right combination of substrate, magnetic, and insulating layers to engineer antiferromagnetic coupling. The resulting superlattices, consisting of alternating layers of a ferromagnetic oxide and an insulating material, exhibit layer-by-layer switching of magnetization.

Science, this issue p. 191


Synthesizing antiferromagnets with correlated oxides has been challenging, owing partly to the markedly degraded ferromagnetism of the magnetic layer at nanoscale thicknesses. Here we report on the engineering of an antiferromagnetic interlayer exchange coupling (AF-IEC) between ultrathin but ferromagnetic La2/3Ca1/3MnO3 layers across an insulating CaRu1/2Ti1/2O3 spacer. The layer-resolved magnetic switching leads to sharp steplike hysteresis loops with magnetization plateaus depending on the repetition number of the stacking bilayers. The magnetization configurations can be switched at moderate fields of hundreds of oersted. Moreover, the AF-IEC can also be realized with an alternative magnetic layer of La2/3Sr1/3MnO3 that possesses a Curie temperature near room temperature. The findings will add functionalities to devices with correlated-oxide interfaces.

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