Characterisation of focused ion beam nanostructures by transmission electron microscopy

Ion irradiation is an effective tool for the modifcation and control of the properties of magnetic thin films. Basic magnetic properties such as coercivity and local anisotropy direction can be altered in NiFe (Permalloy) films, whilst for Co/Pd multilayers, ion irradiation results in a transition from perpendicular to in-plane magnetisation. This ability to tailor magnetic properties in a controlled manner can be used as a tool for nanoscale patterning. Results are presented from investigations into the effect of Ga+ ion dose on the magnetic and structural properties of permalloy thin film systems. Systems consisting of a permalloy layer of either 10nm or 20nm, and one or more non-magnetic layers of Al or Au were deposited by thermal evaporation and irradiated in a focused ion beam (FIB) with a 30kV Ga ion source. The presence of the non-magnetic layers allows irradiation induced mixing with the magnetic layer, effectively creating alloyed regions with different properties to the rest of the film. At low ion doses, no significant effect on either the magnetic or structural properties were observed. Bright field TEM images of the irradiated regions revealed that increasing the dose to 1x10^15 ions/cm^2 and above caused an increase in mean grain size from ~5nm to ~30nm. The Fresnel mode of Lorentz microscopy revealed that a reduction in the mean moment was also observed at these doses but no clear changes in coercivity or magnetisation reversal behaviour were observed until the systems were rendered non-magnetic. This occurred at 1x10^16 and 3x10^16 ions/cm^2 for systems with 10nm NiFe and 20nm NiFe respectively. Milling of the samples was evident at these high doses, meaning that it was not possible to magnetically pattern these systems without occasioning a change of 2nm and 6nm respectively in the thickness of the samples. Based on the above, structures were created to control the location of magnetic domain walls (DW). Lines were written by FIB in simple elements with dimensions <1micron, the aim being to create a higher density of DW than could be realised in equivalent homogeneous elements. Structures containing high DW densities are attractive for measuring domain wall magnetoresistive effects and have potential application in DW-based storage or logic devices. One geometry of interest is an element with `zigzag' edges. Results are be presented in chapter 4 showing how these can support either quasi-uniform magnetisation or multi-domain structures separated by DW with spacing <100nm. In chapter 5 irradiation of magnetic structures was again carried out, but this time in magnetic wires to create defect or pinning sites. Domain wall traps fabricated by ion irradiation were characterised, and irradiation line defects introduced along the wire. The lines were patterned at 90± and 45± to the length of the wire, and successfully pinned the domain walls at predefned locations. A 90 degree line irradiated at a dose of 1x10^15 ions/cm^2 was not able to provide a strong enough pinning site for a domain wall. However, when the angle of the line was changed to ±45 degrees it was possible to reproducibly pin domain walls at these sites. A relationship between the orientation of the irradiated line and the chirality of the domain wall that pinned at the site was observed. The effcts of irradiation on Co/Pd multilayers with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy was investigated in chapter 6. Irradiation causes magnetic systems with perpendicular magnetisation to undergo a transition from out-of-plane magnetisation to in-plane. A grid pattern was devised so that magnetic states with both in-plane and out-of-plane magnetisation could be observed. A combination of differential phase contrast microscopy and simulations of integrated magnetic induction were used to determine the orientation of magnetisation within the lines.