Tunability of room-temperature ferromagnetism in spintronic semiconductors through nonmagnetic atoms
AbstractThe implementation and control of room-temperature ferromagnetism (RTFM) by adding magnetic atoms to a semiconductor's lattice has been one of the most important problems in solid-state physics in the last decade. Herein we report on the mechanism that allows RTFM to be tuned by the inclusion of nonmagnetic aluminum in nickel ferrite. This material, NiFe2−xAlxO4 (x=0,0.5,1.5), has already shown much promise for magnetic semiconductor technologies, and we are able to add to its versatility technological viability with our results. The site occupancies and valencies of Fe atoms (Fe3+Td, Fe2+Oh, and Fe3+Oh) can be methodically controlled by including aluminum. Using the fact that aluminum strongly prefers a 3+ octahedral environment, we can selectively fill iron sites with aluminum atoms, and hence specifically tune the magnetic contributions for each of the iron sites, and therefore the bulk material as well. Interestingly, the influence of the aluminum is weak on the electronic structure, allowing one to retain the desirable electronic properties while achieving desirable magnetic properties.