Order and interfaces in epitaxial heterostructures : Structure and magnetism

Abstract: The work in this dissertation is devoted to investigating order and interfaces in epitaxial heterostructures. To achieve that the software tool box GenL was developed for simulating and fitting x-ray diffraction patterns from epitaxial thin films, which is used to access structural information on the length scales of interfaces and atomic bonds. Employing GenL, it is shown that a small lattice mismatch between substrate and epitaxial layer is not the sole origin of high crystal quality, as demonstrated for nearly strain-free epitaxial growth of tungsten on sapphire with a lattice mismatch of up to 19.4 %. Furthermore, it is discussed that electronic states at the substrate/film interface can have substantial significance for the crystal structure of an epitaxial layer. For instance, despite a nearly mismatch-free interface of body-centered cubic iron on spinel, the presence of a boundary-induced interface layer with tetragonally distorted crystal structure is discovered, which has a profound impact on the magnetic properties. Finally, when creating multilayered structures, not only the interface states but the total structure is found to influence the physical properties, which is demonstrated for the interlayer exchange coupling in [Fe/MgO]N superlattices.

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