We report on the significantly enhanced in-plane magnetic properties of CoFe2O4 (001) ultrathin layers (5 nm) grown on MgAl2O4 (001) in comparison to films deposited on MgO (001). The predicted inverse spinel structure is confirmed by x-ray magnetic circular dichroism measurements and transmission electronic microscopy studies reveal a significant in-plane compressive strain, responsible for the strong film anisotropy. These results show that strain engineering can be used to tailor the magnetic properties of oxide ultrathin films. A large compressive strain restores bulk magnetic properties for CoFe2O4 films at tunnel barrier thicknesses.
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