Orientation of FePt nanoparticles on top of a-SiO2/Si(001), MgO(001) and sapphire(0001): Effect of thermal treatments and influence of substrate and particle size

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Abstract

Texture formation and epitaxy of thin metal films and oriented growth of nanoparticles (NPs) on single crystal supports are of general interest for improved physical and chemical properties especially of anisotropic materials. In the case of FePt, the main focus lies on its highly anisotropic magnetic behavior and its catalytic activity, both due to the chemically ordered face-centered tetragonal (fct) L10 phase. If the c-axis of the tetragonal system can be aligned normal to the substrate plane, perpendicular magnetic recording could be achieved. Here, we study the orientation of FePt NPs and films on a-SiO2/Si(001), i.e., Si(001) with an amorphous (a-) native oxide layer on top, on MgO(001), and on sapphire(0001) substrates. For the NPs of an approximately equiatomic composition, two different sizes were chosen: "small" NPs with diameters in the range of 2-3 nm and "large" ones in the range of 5-8 nm. The 3 nm thick FePt films, deposited by pulsed laser deposition (PLD), served as reference samples. The structural properties were probed in situ, particularly texture formation and epitaxy of the specimens by reflection high-energy electron diffraction (RHEED) and, in case of 3 nm nanoparticles, additionally by high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) after different annealing steps between 200 and 650 °C. The L10 phase is obtained at annealing temperatures above 550 °C for films and 600 °C for nanoparticles in accordance with previous reports. On the amorphous surface of a-SiO2/Si substrates we find no preferential orientation neither for FePt films nor nanoparticles even after annealing at 630 °C. On sapphire(0001) supports, however, FePt nanoparticles exhibit a clearly preferred (111) orientation even in the as-prepared state, which can be slightly improved by annealing at 600-650 °C. This improvement depends on the size of NPs: Only the smaller NPs approach a fully developed (111) orientation. On top of MgO(001) the effect of annealing on particle orientation was found to be strongest. From a random orientation in the as-prepared state observed for both, small and large FePt NPs, annealing at 650 °C for 30 min reorients the small particles towards a cube-on-cube epitaxial orientation with a minor fraction of (111)-oriented particles. In contrast, large FePt NPs keep their as-prepared random orientation even after doubling the annealing period at 650 °C to 60 min.

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Schilling, M., Ziemann, P., Zhang, Z., Biskupek, J., Kaiser, U., & Wiedwald, U. (2016). Orientation of FePt nanoparticles on top of a-SiO2/Si(001), MgO(001) and sapphire(0001): Effect of thermal treatments and influence of substrate and particle size. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology, 7(1), 591–604. https://doi.org/10.3762/bjnano.7.52

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