Large Perpendicular Magnetic Anisotropy in Nanometer-Thick Epitaxial Graphene/Co/Heavy Metal Heterostructures for Spin–Orbitronics Devices

María Blanco-Rey, Paolo Perna, Adrian Gudin, Jose Manuel Diez, Alberto Anadón, Pablo Olleros-Rodríguez, Leticia de Melo Costa, Manuel Valvidares, Pierluigi Gargiani, Alejandra Guedeja-Marron, Mariona Cabero, María Varela (+6 others)
2021 ACS Applied Nano Materials  
Nanometer-thick epitaxial Co films intercalated between graphene (Gr) and a heavy metal (HM) substrate are promising systems for the development of spin−orbitronic devices due to their large perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA). A combination of theoretical modeling and experiments reveals the origin of the PMA and explains its behavior as a function of the Co thickness. High quality epitaxial Gr/Co n /HM(111) (HM = Pt,Ir) heterostructures are grown by intercalation below graphene, which
more » ... as a surfactant that kinetically stabilizes the pseudomorphic growth of highly perfect Co face-centered tetragonal (fct) films, with a reduced number of stacking faults as the only structural defect observable by high-resolution scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM). Magneto-optic Kerr effect (MOKE) measurements show that such heterostructures present PMA up to large Co critical thicknesses of about 4 nm (20 ML) and 2 nm (10 ML) for Pt and Ir substrates, respectively. X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) measurements show an inverse power law of the anisotropy of the orbital moment with Co thickness, reflecting its interfacial nature, that changes sign at about the same critical values. First principles calculations show that, regardless of the presence of graphene, ideal Co fct films on HM buffers do not sustain PMAs beyond around 6 mLs due to the in-plane contribution of the inner bulk-like Co layers. The large experimental critical thicknesses sustaining PMA can only be retrieved by the inclusion of structural defects that promote a local hcp stacking such as twin boundaries or stacking faults. Remarkably, a layer resolved analysis of the orbital momentum anisotropy reproduces its interfacial nature, and reveals that the Gr/Co interface contribution is comparable to that of the Co/Pt(Ir).
doi:10.1021/acsanm.0c03364 fatcat:fdssx5he45arraguc6ifqzjkhe