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A Nanolaminated Magnetic Phase: Mn2GaC
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Physics, Chemistry and Biology, Thin Film Physics. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5036-2833
Science Institute, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.
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2014 (English)In: Materials Research Letters, ISSN 2166-3831, Vol. 2, no 2, p. 89-93Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Layered magnetic materials are fascinating from the point of view of fundamental science as well as applications. Discoveries such as giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in magnetic multilayers have revolutionized data storage and magnetic recording, and concurrently initiated the search for new layered magnetic materials. One group of inherently nanolaminated compounds are the so called Mn+1AXn (MAX) phases. Due to the large number of isostructural compositions, researchers are exploring the wide range of interesting properties, and not primarily functionalization through optimization of structural quality. Magnetic MAX phases have been discussed in the literature, though this is hitherto an unreported phenomenon. However, such materials would be highly interesting, based on the attractive and useful properties attained with layered magnetic materials to date. Here we present a new MAX phase, (Cr1–xMnx)2GeC, synthesized as thin film in heteroepitaxial form, showing single crystal material with unprecedented structural MAX phase quality. The material was identified using first-principles calculations to study stability of hypothetical MAX phases, in an eort to identify a potentially magnetic material. The theory predicts a variety of magnetic behavior depending on the Mn concentration and Cr/Mn atomic conguration within the sublattice. The analyzed thin films display a magnetic signal well above room temperature and with partly ferromagnetic ordering. These very promising results open up a field of new layered magnetic materials, with high potential for electronics and spintronics applications.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2014. Vol. 2, no 2, p. 89-93
Keywords [en]
MAX phases, sputtering, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), ab initio calculation
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-77774DOI: 10.1080/21663831.2013.865105OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-77774DiVA, id: diva2:529121
Note

On the day of the defence date the status of this article was previous Manuscript. The original title of the Manuscript was Magnetic nanoscale laminates from first principles and thin film synthesis.

Available from: 2012-05-29 Created: 2012-05-29 Last updated: 2018-03-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Thin Film Synthesis and Characterization of New MAX Phase Alloys
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Thin Film Synthesis and Characterization of New MAX Phase Alloys
2012 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The objective of this Thesis is synthesis and characterization of new MAX phase alloys (M = early transition metal, A = A-group element, and X = C or N) based on incorporation of M and X elements previously not used in any known MAX phases. This is motivated by a search for optimized and unique materials properties, such as different magnetic states.

Two synthesis routes have been used to attain Ti2AlC1-xOx: deposition of Ti2AlCy under high vacuum conditions with residual gas acting as O source, and solid-state reactions following deposition of understoichiometric TiCy on Al2O3. Detailed local quantification by analytical transmission electron microscopy (TEM) including electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) shows up to 13 at.% O within high quality MAX phase structure. According to previous theoretical work, the range of experimentally obtained O content is enough to observe drastic changes in the materials anisotropic electronic properties. Calculations on effect of substitutional O on shear deformation have also been performed.

In a recent theoretical study by Dahlqvist et al., (Cr,Mn)2AlC has been predicted as a new stable magnetic nanoscale laminate. Inspired by this work, thin films of (Cr,Mn)2AlC, as well as of a neighboring system (Cr,Mn)2GeC, have been synthesized by magnetron sputtering. Incorporation of 8 and 12.5 at.% of Mn, respectively, has been detected by analytical TEM including EELS and energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX). The total saturation moment of 0.36μB per Mn atom at 50 K has been measured by vibrating sample magnetometry (VSM) for a (Cr,Mn)2GeC sample, providing the first experimental evidence of a magnetic MAX phase.

The experimental results obtained in this Thesis provide a base for expanding the MAX phase definition and materials characteristics into new areas, towards further fundamental understanding and functionalization.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. p. 37
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1538
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-77775 (URN)LIU-TEK-LIC-2012:23 (Local ID)978-91-7519-868-2 (ISBN)LIU-TEK-LIC-2012:23 (Archive number)LIU-TEK-LIC-2012:23 (OAI)
Presentation
2012-06-14, Jordan-Fermi, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2012-05-29 Created: 2012-05-29 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved
2. Materials Design from First Principles: stability and magnetism of nanolaminates
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Materials Design from First Principles: stability and magnetism of nanolaminates
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In this thesis, first-principles calculations within density functional theory are presented, with a principal goal to investigate the phase stability of so called Mn+1AXn (MAX) phases. MAX phases are a group of nanolaminated materials comprised of a transition metal (M), a group 12-16 element (A), and carbon or nitrogen (X). They combine ceramic and metallic characteristics, and phase stability studies are motivated by a search for new phases with novel properties, such as magnetism, and for the results to be used as guidance in attempted materials synthesis in the lab.

To investigate phase stability of a hypothetical material, a theoretical approach has been developed, where the essential part is to identify the set of most competing phases relative to the material of interest. This approach advance beyond more traditional evaluation of stability, where the energy of formation of the material is generally calculated relative to its single elements, or to a set of ad hoc chosen competing phases. For phase stability predictions to be reliable, validation of previous experimental work is a requirement prior to investigations of new, still hypothetical, materials. It is found that the predictions from the developed theoretical approach are consistent with experimental observations for a large set of MAX phases. The predictive power is thereafter demonstrated for the new phases Nb2GeC and Mn2GaC, which subsequently have been synthesized as thin films. It should be noted that Mn is used for the first time as sole M-element in a MAX phase. Hence, the theory is successfully used to find new candidates, and to guide experimentalists in their work on novel promising materials. Phase stability is also evaluated for MAX phase alloys. Incorporation of oxygen in different M2AlC phases are studied, and the results show that oxygen prefer different sites depending on M-element, through the number of available non-bonding M d-electrons. The theory also predicts that oxygen substituting for carbon in Ti2AlC stabilizes the material, which explains the  experimentally observed 12.5 at% oxygen (x = 0.5) in Ti2Al(C1-xOx).

Magnetism is a recently attained property of MAX phase materials, and a direct result of this Thesis work. We have demonstrated the importance of choice of magnetic spin configuration and electron correlations approximations for theoretical evaluation of the magnetic ground state of Cr2AC (A = Al, Ga, Ge). Furthermore, alloying Cr2AlC with Mn to obtain the first magnetic MAX phase have been theoretically predicted and experimentally verified. Using Mn2GaC as model system, Heisenberg Monte Carlo simulations have been used to explore also noncollinear magnetism, suggesting a large set of possible spin configurations (spin waves and spin spirals) to be further investigated in future theoretical and experimental work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. p. 81
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1571
National Category
Natural Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-104764 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-104764 (DOI)978-91-7519-411-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-03-14, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-02-25 Created: 2014-02-25 Last updated: 2017-11-03Bibliographically approved
3. Synthesis and characterization of Ga-containing MAX phase thin films
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Synthesis and characterization of Ga-containing MAX phase thin films
2014 (English)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The study of magnetic Mn+1AXn (MAX) phases (n = 1 − 3, M – a transition metal, A – an A group element, X – C or N) is a recently established research area, fuelled by theoretical predictions and first confirmed experimentally through alloying of Mn into the well-known Cr2AlC and Cr2GeC. Theoretical phase stability investigations suggested a new magnetic MAX phase, Mn2GaC, containing Ga which is liquid close to room temperature. Hence, alternative routes for MAX phase synthesis were needed, motivating a further development of magnetron sputtering from liquid targets.

In this thesis, (Cr1-xMnx)2GaC 0 ≤ x ≤ 1  MAX phase thin films have been synthesized from elemental and/or compound targets, using ultra high vacuum magnetron sputtering. Initial thin film synthesis of Cr2GaC was performed using elemental targets, including liquid Ga. Process optimization ensured optimal target size and crucible geometry for containing the Ga. Films were deposited at 650 °C on MgO(111) substrates. X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy confirms the growth of epitaxial Cr2GaC MAX phase with minor inclusions of Cr3Ga.

To explore the magnetic characteristics upon Mn alloying, synthesis of (Cr0.5Mn0.5)2GaC thin films was performed from elemental Ga and C and a composite Cr/Mn target of 1:1 composition. Films were deposited on MgO(111), Al2O3(0001) (with or without NbN seed layer), and 4° off-cut 4H-SiC(0001) substrates. The films are smooth and of high structural quality as confirmed by X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy. The film composition measured by high resolution energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy confirms a composition corresponding to (Cr0.5Mn0.5)2GaC. The magnetic response, as measured with vibrating sample magnetometry, displays a ferromagnetic component, however, the temperature dependence of the magnetic moments and saturation fields suggests competing magnetic interaction and possible non-collinear magnetic ordering.

Finally, inspired by theoretical predictions, a new member of the MAX phase family, Mn2GaC, was synthesized. This is the first MAX phase containing Mn as a sole M element. X-ray diffraction and transmission electron microscopy confirms the characteristic MAX phase structure with a 2:1:1 composition. Theoretical work suggests that the magnetic ground state is almost degenerate between ferromagnetic and anti-ferromagnetic. Vibrating sample magnetometry shows ferromagnetic response with a transition temperature Tc of 230 K. However, also for this phase, complex magnetism is suggested. Altogether, the results indicate a new family of magnetic nanolaminates with a rich variation of magnetic ground states.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2014. p. 29
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1680
National Category
Physical Sciences Materials Engineering
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-110764 (URN)10.3384/lic.diva-110764 (DOI)978-91-7519-224-6 (ISBN)
Presentation
2014-10-23, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 13:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-09-22 Created: 2014-09-22 Last updated: 2017-10-17Bibliographically approved
4. Synthesis and characterization of magnetic nanolaminated carbides
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Synthesis and characterization of magnetic nanolaminated carbides
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

MAX phases are a group of nanolaminated ternary carbides and nitrides, with a composition expressed by the general formula Mn+1AXn (𝑛 = 1 − 3), where M is a transition metal, A is an A-group element, and X is carbon and/or nitrogen. MAX phases have attracted interest due to their unique combination of metallic and ceramic properties, related to their inherently laminated structure of a transition metal carbide (Mn+1Xn) layer interleaved by an A-group metal layer.

This Thesis explores synthesis and characterization of magnetic MAX phases, where the A-group element is gallium (Ga). Due to the low melting point of Ga (T = 30 °C), conventional thin film synthesis methods become challenging, as the material is in liquid form at typical process temperatures. Development of existing methods has therefore been investigated, for reliable/reproducible synthesis routes, including sputtering from a liquid target, and resulting high quality material. Routes for minimizing trial-and-error procedures during optimization of thin film synthesis have also been studied, allowing faster identification of optimal deposition conditions and a simplified transfer of essential deposition parameters between different deposition systems.

A large part of this Thesis is devoted towards synthesis of MAX phase thin films in the Cr-Mn-Ga-C system. First, through process development, thin films of Cr2GaC were deposited by magnetron sputtering. The films were epitaxial, however with small amount of impurity phase Cr3Ga, as confirmed by X-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements. The film structure was confirmed by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and the composition by energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) inside the TEM.

Inspired by predictive ab initio calculations, the new MAX phase Mn2GaC was successfully synthesized in thin film form by magnetron sputtering. Structural parameters and magnetic properties were analysed. The material was found to have two magnetic transitions in the temperature range 3 K to 750 K, with a first order transition at around 214 K, going from non-collinear antiferromagnetic state at lower temperature to an antiferromagnetic state at higher temperature. The Neél temperature was determined to be 507 K, changing from an antiferromagnetic to a paramagnetic state. Above 800 K, Mn2GaC decomposes. Furthermore, magnetostrictive, magnetoresistive and magnetocaloric properties of the material were iv determined, among which a drastic change in lattice parameters upon the first magnetic transition was observed. This may be of interest for magnetocaloric applications.

Synthesis of both Cr2GaC and Mn2GaC in thin film form opens the possibility to tune the magnetic properties through a solid solution on the transition metal site, by alloying the aforementioned Cr2GaC with Mn, realizing (Cr1-xMnx)2GaC. From a compound target with a Cr:Mn ratio of 1:1, thin films of (Cr0.5Mn0.5)2GaC were synthesized, confirmed by TEM-EDX. Optimized structure was obtained by deposition on MgO substrates at a deposition temperature of 600 ºC. The thin films were phase pure and of high structural quality, allowing magnetic measurements. Using vibrating sample magnetometry (VSM), it was found that (Cr0.5Mn0.5)2GaC has a ferromagnetic component in the temperature range from 30 K to 300 K, with the measured magnetic moment at high field decreasing by increasing temperature. The remanent moment and coercive field is small, 0.036 μB, and 12 mT at 30 K, respectively. Using ferromagnetic resonance spectroscopy, it was also found that the material has pure spin magnetism, as indicated by the determined spectroscopic splitting factor g = 2.00 and a negligible magnetocrystalline anisotropy energy.

Fuelled by the recent discoveries of in-plane chemically ordered quaternary MAX phases, so called i-MAX phases, and guided by ab initio calculations, new members within this family, based on Cr and Mn, were synthesized by pressureless sintering methods, realizing (Cr2/3Sc1/3)2GaC and (Mn2/3Sc1/3)2GaC. Their structural properties were determined. Through these phases, the Mn content is the highest obtained in a bulk MAX phase to date.

This work has further developed synthesis processes for sputtering from liquid material, for an optimized route to achieve thin films of controlled composition and a high structural quality. Furthermore, through this work, Mn has been added as a new element in the family of MAX phase elements. It has also been shown, that alloying with different content of Mn gives rise to varying magnetic properties in MAX phases. As a result of this Thesis, it is expected that the MAX phase family can be further expanded, with more members of new compositions and new properties.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2018. p. 58
Series
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Dissertations, ISSN 0345-7524 ; 1918
National Category
Condensed Matter Physics
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-145679 (URN)10.3384/diss.diva-145679 (DOI)9789176853429 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-04-16, Planck, Fysikhuset, Campus Valla, Linköping, 10:15 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-03-15 Created: 2018-03-15 Last updated: 2018-03-22Bibliographically approved

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Ingason, Arni SigurdurDahlqvist, MartinAlling, BjörnAbrikosov, IgorPersson, Per O ÅRosén, Johanna

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