Monte Carlo studies of classical Heisenberg spins on face-centered-cubic lattices : effects of strain, interlayer coupling, and dilution of lattice Public Deposited

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  • This thesis presents the results from Monte Carlo calculations on classical vector spins in face-centered-cubic (FCC) lattices. The goal of the study was to understand the effect of interlayer coupling, dilution of magnetic atoms in the lattice, and symmetry-changing strain. Experimental work by T. M. Giebultowicz et al. and J. A. Borchers et al. greatly inspired my work [1, 2]. J. A. Borchers's group studied NiO/CoO superlattices and observed that the magnetic order of CoO persisted above its Neel temperature due to the effect of interlayer coupling with NiO, which has a higher Neel temperature than CoO [1]. Simulating on a model of NiO/CoO bilayer reproduced the experimental results from Borchers et al. [1]. I concluded that exchange pinning on the NiO/CoO interface preserves the magnetic order of CoO above its Neel temperature significantly. Building on this initial result, a ferromagnet/antiferromagnet/ferromagnet (FM/AFM/FM) trilayer model was studied, where the ferromagnetic (FM) layers were antiferromagnetically coupled. First, I calculated the strength of the AF coupling as a function of the number of antiferromagnetic (AFM) spacer monolayers and concluded that the strength of AFM coupling decreases as the number of AFM spacer monolayers increases. Secondly, I added a uniaxial anisotropy to the model and obtained magnetization curves which exhibited hysteresis-like features with an external field and a first order magnetic transition. Lastly, I diluted the AFM spacer layer in the FM/AFM/FM trilayer by replacing magnetic spins with zero spins in the model. The dilution of AFM spacer layer caused fluctuations in the magnetization curves with external field but the strength of AFM coupling decreases as the number of AFM monolayers increases as in the nondiluted cases. The experimental results from T.M. Giebultowicz's group on MnSe/ZnTe superlattices by neutron scattering showed incommensurate helical spin order in MnSe, where MnSe layers were under tensile strain due to a small mismatching in the lattice parameter [2]. In addition, they observed that the pitch of the spin helix increased as the temperature increased [2]. I modeled the MnSe/ ZnTe system with Monte Carlo method and found that the pitch of the spin helix increased with temperature. In fact, the dependence of helix pitch on temperature was present regardless of the thickness of the sample, so I concluded that this pitch increase is not from the weakening of coupling of surface spins
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