Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.S.

Degree Granting Department

Physics

Major Professor

Casey W. Miller

Keywords

Gettering, Magnetic Refrigeration, Nanostructuring, Phase Changes, Superlattices

Abstract

The goals of this work are the optimization of the magnetocaloric effect in Gadolinium thin film structures. We approach this issue from two directions, that of process optimization and of interface effects. Past results showed Gd2O3 in our Gadolinium thin films, and the presence of such oxide seemed to grow with the temperature at which the film was grown or annealed. Comparison of samples grown without chamber gettering to those that were gettered show differences in their structural and magnetic properties, and we conclude that gettering is an effective step in enhancing the quality of Gd thin film samples.

Early work with Gd/W heterostructures showed a diminished magnetization of the interfacial gadolinium, which reduces the magnetocaloric response as magnetic entropy is proportional to m2/3. It is known that Fe interfaces can boost the Gd moments per atom to above that seen in bulk. As such, we fabricated a series of Fe/Gd heterostructures to study the effects on the structural and magnetic properties of Gd thin films. The use of Fe as a base layer shows increased high frequency oscillations in X-ray reflectivity measurements, indicating sharp interfaces between Gd and Fe. The magnetocaloric measurements produce a magnetic entropy curve with a novel tail extending leftward, making this an improved material over Gd for applications around 240K. All the same, vector magnetometry is needed to ensure that such tail is not due to rotations within the plane and is a direction for further study.

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