AgCrSe2 exhibits remarkably high ionic conduction, an inversion symmetry-breaking structural transition, and is host to complex non-colinear magnetic orders. Despite its attractive physical and chemical properties and its potential for technological applications, studies of this compound to date are focused almost exclusively on bulk samples. Here, we report the growth of AgCrSe2 thin films via molecular beam epitaxy. Single-orientated epitaxial growth was confirmed by x-ray diffraction, while resonant photoemission spectroscopy measurements indicate a consistent electronic structure as compared to bulk single crystals. We further demonstrate significant flexibility of the grain morphology and cation stoichiometry of this compound via control of the growth parameters, paving the way for the targeted engineering of the electronic and chemical properties of AgCrSe2 in thin-film form.
Mn3Si2Te6 is a rare example of a layered ferrimagnet. It has recently been shown to host a colossal angular magnetoresistance as the spin orientation is rotated from the in- to out-of-plane direction, proposed to be underpinned by a topological nodal-line degeneracy in its electronic structure. Nonetheless, the origins of its ferrimagnetic structure remain controversial, while its experimental electronic structure, and the role of correlations in shaping this, are little explored to date. Here, we combine x-ray and photoemission-based spectroscopies with first-principles calculations to probe the elemental-selective electronic structure and magnetic order in Mn3Si2Te6. Through these, we identify a marked Mn-Te hybridization, which weakens the electronic correlations and enhances the magnetic anisotropy. We demonstrate how this strengthens the magnetic frustration in Mn3Si2Te6, which is key to stabilizing its ferrimagnetic order, and find a crucial role of both exchange interactions extending beyond nearest-neighbors and antisymmetric exchange in dictating its ordering temperature. Together, our results demonstrate a powerful methodology of using experimental electronic structure probes to constrain the parameter space for first-principles calculations of magnetic materials, and through this approach, reveal a pivotal role played by covalency in stabilizing the ferrimagnetic order in Mn3Si2Te6.
In the last decade, reducing the dimensionality of materials to few atomic layers thickness has allowed exploring new physical properties and functionalities otherwise absent out of the two dimensional limit. In this regime, interfaces and interlayers play a crucial role. Here, we investigate their influence on the electronic properties and structural quality of ultrathin Cr2O3 on Pt(111), in presence of a multidomain graphene intralayer. Specifically, by combining Low-Energy Electron Diffraction, X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy, we confirm the growth of high-quality ultrathin Cr2O3 on bare Pt, with sharp surface reconstructions, proper stoichiometry and good electronic quality. Once a multidomain graphene intralayer is included at the metal/oxide interface, the Cr2O3 maintained its correct stoichiometry and a comparable electronic quality, even at the very first monolayers, despite the partially lost of the morphological long-range order. These results show how ultrathin Cr2O3 films are slightly affected by the interfacial epitaxial quality from the electronic point of view, making them potential candidates for graphene-integrated heterostructures.
We report on the growth and characterization of epitaxial YBa2Cu3O7−δ (YBCO) complex oxide thin films and related heterostructures exclusively by Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) and using first harmonic Nd:Y3Al5O12 (Nd:YAG) pulsed laser source (λ = 1064 nm). High-quality epitaxial YBCO thin film heterostructures display superconducting properties with transition temperature ∼ 80 K. Compared with the excimer lasers, when using Nd:YAG lasers, the optimal growth conditions are achieved at a large target-to-substrate distance d. These results clearly demonstrate the potential use of the first harmonic Nd:YAG laser source as an alternative to the excimer lasers for the PLD thin film community. Its compactness as well as the absence of any safety issues related to poisonous gas represent a major breakthrough in the deposition of complex multi-element compounds in form of thin films.
Here, we present an integrated ultra-high-vacuum (UHV) apparatus for the growth of complex materials and heterostructures. The specific growth technique is the Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD) by means of a dual-laser source based on an excimer KrF ultraviolet and solid-state Nd:YAG infra-red lasers. By taking advantage of the two laser sources—both lasers can be independently used within the deposition chambers—a large number of different materials—ranging from oxides to metals, to selenides, and others—can be successfully grown in the form of thin films and heterostructures. All of the samples can be in situ transferred between the deposition chambers and the analysis chambers by using vessels and holders’ manipulators. The apparatus also offers the possibility to transfer samples to remote instrumentation under UHV conditions by means of commercially available UHV-suitcases. The dual-PLD operates for in-house research as well as user facility in combination with the Advanced Photo-electric Effect beamline at the Elettra synchrotron radiation facility in Trieste and allows synchrotron-based photo-emission as well as x-ray absorption experiments on pristine films and heterostructures.
V2O3 presents a complex interrelationship between the metal–insulator transition and the structural rhombohedral-monoclinic one in temperature, as a function of sample thickness. Whilst in bulk V2O3 the two transitions coincide on the temperature scale, at 15 nm thickness a fully independent Mott-like transition occurs at lower temperature, with no corresponding structural changes perhaps related to epitaxial strain. It is therefore of relevance to investigate the thin and ultrathin film growth to pinpoint the chemical, electronic and structural phase phenomenology and the role of the interface with the substrate. Here we present results on the thickness dependent properties of V2O3 from 1 nm up to 40 nm thick as grown on c-plane Al2O3 substrates by exploiting variable sampling depth probes. The surface morphology of stoichiometric ultra-thin V2O3 layers evolves from islands-like to continuous flat film with thickness, with implications on the overall properties.
The possibility of modifying the ferromagnetic response of a multiferroic heterostructure via fully optical means exploiting the photovoltaic/photostrictive properties of the ferroelectric component is an effective method for tuning the interfacial properties. In this study, the effects of 405 nm visible-light illumination on the ferroelectric and ferromagnetic responses of (001) Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3-0.4PbTiO3 (PMN-PT)/Ni heterostructures are presented. By combining electrical, structural, magnetic, and spectroscopic measurements, how light illumination above the ferroelectric bandgap energy induces a photovoltaic current and the photostrictive effect reduces the coercive field of the interfacial magnetostrictive Ni layer are shown. Firstly, a light-induced variation in the Ni orbital moment as a result of sum-rule analysis of x-ray magnetic circular dichroic measurements is reported. The reduction of orbital moment reveals a photogenerated strain field. The observed effect is strongly reduced when polarizing out-of-plane the PMN-PT substrate, showing a highly anisotropic photostrictive contribution from the in-plane ferroelectric domains. These results shed light on the delicate energy balance that leads to sizeable light-induced effects in multiferroic heterostructures, while confirming the need of spectroscopy for identifying the physical origin of interface behavior.
The generation and control of surface acoustic waves (SAWs) in a magnetic material are objects of an intense research effort focused on magnetoelastic properties, with fruitful ramifications in spin-wave-based quantum logic and magnonics. We implement a transient grating setup to optically generate SAWs also seeding coherent spin waves via magnetoelastic coupling in ferromagnetic media. In this work we report on SAW-driven ferromagnetic resonance (FMR) experiments performed on polycrystalline Ni thin films in combination with time-resolved Faraday polarimetry, which allows extraction of the value of the effective magnetization and of the Gilbert damping. The results are in full agreement with measurements on the very same samples from standard FMR. Higher-order effects due to parametric modulation of the magnetization dynamics, such as down-conversion, up-conversion, and frequency mixing, are observed, testifying the high sensitivity of this technique.