Structural and Magnetic Properties of Epitaxial MnSi(111) Thin Films
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MnSi(111) films were grown on Si(111) substrates by solid phase epitaxy (SPE) and molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) to determine their magnetic structures. A lattice mismatch of -3.1% causes an in-plane tensile strain in the film, which is partially relaxed by misfit dislocations. A correlation between the thickness dependence of the Curie temperature (TC) and strain is hypothesized to be due to the presence of interstitial defects. The in-plane tensile strain leads to an increase in the unit cell volume that results in an increased TC as large as TC = 45 K compared to TC = 29.5 K for bulk MnSi crystals. The epitaxially induced tensile stress in the MnSi thin films creates an easy-plane uniaxial anisotropy. The magnetoelastic coefficient was obtained from superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) magnetometry measurements combined with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray diffraction (XRD) data. The experimental value agrees with the coefficient determined from density functional calculations, which supports the conclusion that the uniaxial anisotropy originates from the magnetoelastic coupling. Interfacial roughness obscured the magnetic structure of the SPE films, which motivated the search for a better method of film growth. MBE grown films displayed much lower interfacial roughness that enabled a determination of the magnetic structure using SQUID and polarized neutron reflectometry (PNR). Out-of-plane magnetic field measurements on MBE grown MnSi(111) thin films on Si(111) substrates show the formation of a helical conical phase with a wavelength of 2?/Q = 13.9 ± 0.1 nm. The presence of both left-handed and right-handed magnetic chiralities is found to be due to the existence of inversion domains that result from the non-centrosymmetric crystal structure of MnSi. The magnetic frustration created at the domain boundaries explains an observed glassy behaviour in the magnetic response of the films. PNR and SQUID measurements of MnSi thin films performed in an in-plane magnetic field show a complex magnetic behaviour. Experimental results combined with theoretical results obtained from a Dzyaloshinskii model with an added easy-plane uniaxial anisotropy reveals the existence of numerous magnetic modulated states that do not exist in bulk MnSi. It is demonstrated in this thesis that modulated chiral magnetic states can be investigated with epitaxially grown MnSi(111) thin films on insulating Si substrates, which offers opportunities to investigate spin-dependent transport in chiral magnetic heterostructures based on this system.
- MnSi, Manganese silicide, epitaxial thin film, solid phase epitaxy, SPE, molecular beam epitaxy, MBE, x-ray diffraction, XRD, x-ray reflectometry, XRR, polarized neutron reflectometry, PNR, SQUID magnetometry, helical magnet, inversion domains, transmission electron microscopy, TEM, helix, chiral magnetic structure, skyrmion, strain, uniaxial anisotropy, magnetic frustration, glassy behaviour
- spin reorientation