Annealing effect of NiO/Co90Fe10 thin films: From bilayer to nanocomposite

Xu Li, Yu Chi Chang, Jiann Yeu Chen, Ko Wei Lin, Ryan D. Desautels, Johan van Lierop, Philip W.T. Pong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Exchange-biased bilayers are widely used in the pinned layers of spintronic devices. While magnetic field annealing (MFA) was routinely engaged during the fabrication of these devices, the annealing effect of NiO/CoFe bilayers is not yet reported. In this paper, the transition from NiO/Co90Fe10 bilayer to nanocomposite single layer was observed through rapid thermal annealing at different temperatures under magnetic field. The as-deposited and low-temperature (<623 K) annealed samples had rock salt (NiO) and face center cubic (Co90Fe10) structures. On the other hand, annealing at 623 K and 673 K resulted in nanocomposite single layers composed of oxides (matrix) and alloys (precipitate), due to grain boundary oxidization and strong interdiffusion in the NiO/CoFe and CoFe/SiO2 interfaces. The structural transition was accompanied by the reduction of grain sizes, re-ordering of crystallites, incensement of roughness, and reduction of Ni2+. When measured at room temperature, the bilayers exhibited soft magnetism with small room-temperature coercivity. The nanocomposite layers exhibited an enhanced coercivity due to the changes in the magnetization reversal mechanism by pinning from the oxides. At 10 K, the increased antiferromagnetic anisotropy in the NiO resulted in enhanced coercivity and exchange bias in the bilayers. The nanocomposites exhibited weaker exchange bias compared with the bilayers due to frustrated interfacial spins. This investigation on how the magnetic properties of exchange-biased bilayers are influenced by magnetic RTA provides insights into controlling the magnetization reversal properties of thin films.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2886-2893
Number of pages8
JournalPhysics Letters, Section A: General, Atomic and Solid State Physics
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 5 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy


  • Exchange bias
  • Magnetic thin film
  • Nanocomposite


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