Infoscience

Thesis

Magnetization Reversal Dynamics in Ferromagnetic Semiconductors

This thesis is dedicated to the study of the magnetization reversal dynamics in compressively strained (Ga,Mn)As and differently functionalized (Ga,Mn)As materials. In the first part the domain wall dynamics of pure (Ga,Mn)As/GaAs materials is in the focus. The changes in the magnetic anisotropy energy landscape occurring as a function of temperature are monitored in detail by different experimental techniques. These measurements provide the necessary information for the identification of the temperature ranges corresponding to different magnetic anisotropy regimes. Knowing the biaxial anisotropy and uniaxial anisotropy dominated regimes the dependence of the domain wall dynamics on the magnetic anisotropy landscape is studied. Critical changes in domain wall alignment observed by Kerr microscopy are found upon changing from biaxial to uniaxial anisotropy. These changes could be partially attributed to the tendency of the system to minimize magnetic free poles at the domain boundaries. To complement the space resolved studies of the magnetization reversal, magnetic time relaxation effects are addressed. In particular the magnetic aftereffect in (Ga,Mn)As/GaAs is studied in detail. The irreversible aftereffect is evidenced as a critical reduction of the domain wall velocity with time under a constant applied magnetic field below coercivity. This time relaxation is tracked as a function of both time and magnetic field. The measurements show that the overall relaxation is composed of two relaxation processes acting in parallel at short and long time scales. By fitting these experimental results the values of the relaxation times of both relaxation processes were obtained. By this modeling also the values of the activation volumes for two independent (Ga,Mn)As materials are estimated. In the second part of this thesis the possibilities of tuning the electrical and magnetic properties of (Ga,Mn)As by volume and surface treatments are explored. As for the volume modification, oxygen species were incorporated into the (Ga,Mn)As films by means of exposure to an oxygen plasma. The incorporation of oxygen was evidenced by depth profile X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. This treatment is found to weaken the ferromagnetism, visible as a reduction in the Curie temperature, and to hinder the electrical transport evidenced as an increase in the electrical resistance. In agreement with theories accounting for the hole mediated ferromagnetism in (Ga,Mn)As this behaviour was related to a hole compensation mechanism arising from the presence of oxygen impurities sitting in interstitial positions of the (Ga,Mn)As Zinc blende structure. In the last part, the modulation of the electrical and magnetic properties via surface functionalization is presented. The effects produced by the adsorption of molecular species on (Ga,Mn)As are similar to those found after oxygenation, namely a strong weakening of the magnetic properties and an increase in the values of the electrical resistance. However, in this case the distinctive feature is provided by the possibility of regulating the hole quenching effect by exploiting the additional degree of freedom provided by the chemical properties of the adsorbates. The adsorbate chosen for these experiments are dye molecules that absorb light in the visible range, in this way allowing for a light modulated interaction with the substrate. Using this concept is was possible to observe a modulation of the ferromagnetic transition temperature, the coercive field and the electrical resistance upon illumination. These observations provide a proof of principle for the realization of photo-sensitized (Ga,Mn)As devices where the magnetic properties can be regulated by light.

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