Sm–Co/Co and Sm–Co/Fe–Co nanocomposites have been fabricated by electroless plating of Sm–Co powders with Co and Co–Fe, respectively. The influence of electroless plating conditions on the magnetic properties and structure of the coatings were studied. The saturation magnetization (Ms) and morphology of the deposited material were found to be dependent on the concentration of hypophosphite, the temperature of the solution, and plating time. By plating at an elevated temperature and decreasing the NaH2PO2∙H2O concentration of the bath, the phosphorus content decreases, and it is possible to form Co particles with a Ms of up to 142 emu/g as compared to 160 emu/g for bulk Co. For 50 μm Sm(Co,Cu,Fe,Zr)7.5 particles, coating with Co has had little effect on the coercivity, maintaining a value of 7 kOe, while there is a substantial increase in the value of Ms that varies with Co plating time. However, SmCo5 particles with a size of a few microns, plating with the bcc Co–Fe alloy increases Ms significantly, at the expense of the coercivity which decreases drastically. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.
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