Spontaneous creation of exchange bias in epitaxially self-assembled nanostructures driven by inhomogeneous structural transformation

Anjan Bhukta, Akhilesh Kumar Patel, Dror Horvitz, Amit Kohn, Ilan Goldfarb

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ternary silicide nanostructures were grown by solid phase epitaxy of Ni80Fe20 Permalloy on a vicinal Si(0 0 1) surface, with the aim of increasing magnetic anisotropy and stability in assemblies of epitaxial islands. The first nanostructures to form were ternary Fe(Ni)Si2 disilicide islands crystallized in a CaF2-prototype structure, with well-defined flat-top and ridge geometry above the substrate surface and pyramidally faceted interfaces below the surface. Under higher temperature and Permalloy coverage conditions, most of the ridge islands had their shape transformed into the more energetically favorable flat-tops. This shape transition, was driven by vertical interdiffusion and structural phase transformation at the top part of the nanostructures above the surface: the Fe-rich top parts transformed from the CaF2-based γ-disilicide to a CsCl-based c-monosilicide, while the Ni-rich sub-surface part of the islands retained its original CaF2-γ structure. The γ-phase is known to exhibit ferromagnetic order, whereas the c-phase has been identified as antiferromagnetic. As a result of such self-formed coupling between the antiferromagnetic top and ferromagnetic bottom part of the islands, an exchange bias was created, evident from magnetometry.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number155525
JournalApplied Surface Science
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • Magnetic exchange bias
  • Phase transformation in epitaxial nanostructures
  • Scanning tunneling microscopy
  • Ternary iron-nickel silicide

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Surfaces and Interfaces


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