Thermal instability in exchange biased materials

L. E. Fernandez-Outon, Gonzalo Vallejo Fernandez, S. Manzoor, K. O'Grady

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the recent past it has become clear that one reason for the lack of understanding of the exchange bias phenomenon is the fact that the antiferromagnet is not stable against thermally activated changes. Therefore extreme care is required when measuring these effects. In this paper possible origins of thermal instabilities will be discussed and data shown from measurements undertaken using carefully defined measurement protocols which enable reproducible and therefore interpretable data to be obtained. One interesting feature of the study of these materials is that the actual state of the antiferromagnet cannot be measured directly and must be inferred from the behaviour of the ferromagnet after careful sequence of field and temperature cycling. We report on a study of the thermal stability of exchange bias systems, IrMn/CoFe and FeMn/NiFe, with different thicknesses and grain sizes. The influence of the grain size has been studied and shows that coercivity and exchange bias have different origins. Training effects studied over a range of temperatures from 4.2K to 400K indicate different contributions to thermal instabilities in the exchange biased system from the magnetic state of the antiferromagnet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1127-1132
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of optoelectronics and advanced materials
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2007


  • exchange bias
  • anisotropy
  • training effects
  • thermal activation
  • grain-size effects

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