Recent developments in magneto-optic garnet-type thin-film materials synthesis
Faculty of Health, Engineering and Science
Electron Science Research Institute
Magneto-optic (MO) garnets are used in a range of applications in nanophotonics, integrated optics, communications and imaging. Bi-substituted iron garnets of different compositions are the most useful class of materials in applied magnetooptics due to their excellent MO properties (large Faraday effect) and record-high MO figure of merit among all semitransparent dielectrics. It is highly desirable to synthesise garnets which possess simultaneously a high MO figure of merit and large uniaxial magnetic anisotropy. However, the simultaneous optimization of several material properties and parameters can be difficult in single-layer garnet thin films, and it is also challenging to prepare films with high bismuth content using physical vapor deposition technologies. To meet the current challenge of developing next-generation functional MO materials, we design, develop and demonstrate the functionality of new magnetostatically-altered all-garnet multilayer heterostructures using two different garnet materials of dissimilar anisotropy types (out-of-plane and almost-inplane). The multilayer structures possess simultaneously a high MO figure of merit and large uniaxial magnetic anisotropy together with low coercivity, if each of the layers is optimized in composition and annealed correctly. We prepare thin-film heterostructures by sandwiching a MO garnet layer with almost in-plane magnetization in-between two MO garnet layers with out-of-plane magnetization using RF sputtering. We apply customised high-temperature oven annealing processes (optimized in temperature and process durations after running many trials) for the as-deposited (amorphous) garnet multilayers to obtain the crystalline garnet phase in every layer. These structures then possess simultaneously a high optical/MO quality and low coercivity, which is very attractive for the development of magnetic photonic crystals, sensing devices and ultra-fast switches. Based on Bi-substituted ferrite garnets grown on garnet substrates, this new and unique method for the development of new magnetic materials, enables customized magnetic properties to be attained, and can be used to develop novel types of synthetic garnet materials.