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Magnetic ordering and open volume defects – phase transitions in ion irradiated Fe60Al40 thin films

Liedke, M. O.; Ehrler, J.; Bali, R.; Butterling, M.; Hirschmann, E.; Wagner, A.


Fe60Al40 exhibit the so-called disorder induced ferromagnetism, where anti-site disorder (ASD) promotes ferromagnetic A2-phase (disordered) over paramagnetic B2-phase (ordered). Both phases can be - in a controllable fashion - driven by ion irradiation or annealing, respectively. The main physical origin correlates strongly with ASD [R. Bali, et al., Nano Lett. 14, 435 (2014)]. Nevertheless, the concentration and size of open volume defects can be of crucial importance in determining the kinetics of the reordering processes. To unravel the influence of vacancy clusters, three different initial order states have been investigated: (i) as-sputtered, (ii) as-grown irradiated with Ne+ and (iii) B2 ordered films, obtained via 773 K annealing and Ne-irradiated. Open volume defects in the treated samples were investigated with Doppler broadening and positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy. Furthermore, since the reordering directly affects Ms, the extent of the diffusion process can be traced via magnetometry at slightly elevated temperature of 400 K. We show that immobile large vacancy clusters are dominant in the as-grown films; these complexes present only in the as-sputtered film possess a high thermal activation barrier and hinder ordering. Ion irradiation breaks down these pinning defects strongly accelerating thermal diffusion and reordering. These results provide insights into thermal reordering processes in binary alloys, and the consequent effect on magnetic behavior.

Keywords: magnetism; positron; ordering; ion; irradiation; phase transition; defects

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