Owing to its peculiar electronic band structure, high carrier mobility and long spin diffusion length, graphene is a promising two-dimensional material for microelectronics and spintronics. Graphene also shows interesting magnetic properties when in contact with a ferromagnetic metal (FM). For instance, graphene carries a net magnetic moment when deposited on Fe/Ni(111), and a significant spin splitting can be induced in graphene due to proximity with a heavy element.
While these results illustrate potential advantages of integrating graphene within a magnetic stack, the influence of graphene on the magnetic properties of a FM is still largely unexplored. In particular, non-magnetic overlayers generally affect the magnetic anisotropy energy (MAE) of thin layers, where interfaces play an important role. We can then wonder how an interface with graphene would influence the MAE of a thin FM film.
Using spin-polarized low-energy electron microscopy, we study how a graphene overlayer affects the magnetic properties of atomically flat, nm-thick Co films grown on Ir(111). In this contribution, we report several astonishing magnetic properties of graphene-covered Co films:
1) Perpendicular magnetic anisotropy is favored over an unusually large thickness range,
2) Vectorial magnetic imaging reveals an extraordinarily gradual thickness-dependent spin reorientation transition (SRT),
3) During the SRT, cobalt films are characterized by an unconventional spin texture,
4) Spectroscopy measurements indicate that incident spin-polarized electrons do not suffer substantial spin-dependent collisions a few electron-Volts above the vacuum level.
These properties strikingly differ from those of pristine cobalt films and could open new prospects in surface magnetism and spintronics.
Nicolas Rougemaille, Anh Duc Vu, Gong Chen, Alpha T. N’Diaye, Andreas K. Schmid, and Johann Coraux, "Perpendicular magnetic anisotropy, unconventional magnetization texture and extraordinary gradual spin reorientation transition of cobalt films in contact with graphene
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9931, Spintronics IX, 99313N (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 31, 2016; Published: 4 November 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2236487.5166910711001.
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