Formation of the magnetic subsystems in antiferromagnetic NiO nanoparticles using the data of magnetic measurements in fields up to 250 kOe

Popkov, S., I; Krasikov, A. A.; Velikanov, D. A.; Kirillov, V. L.; Martyanov, O. N.; Balaev, D. A. Source: JOURNAL OF MAGNETISM AND MAGNETIC MATERIALS, 483 21-26; 10.1016/j.jmmm.2019.03.004 AUG 1 2019

It is well-known that the fraction of surface atoms and the number of defects in an antiferromagnetic particle increase with a decrease in the particle size to tens of nanometers, which qualitatively changes the properties of the particle. Specifically, in antiferromagnetic nanoparticles, spins in the ferromagnetically ordered planes can partially decompensate; as a result, an antiferromagnetic particle acquires a magnetic moment. As a rule, uncompensated chemical bonds of the surface atoms significantly weaken the exchange coupling with the antiferromagnetic particle core, which can lead to the formation of an additional magnetic subsystem paramagnetic at high temperatures and spin-glass-like in the low-temperature region. The existence of several magnetic subsystems makes it difficult to interpret the magnetic properties of antiferromagnetic nanoparticles. It is shown by the example of NiO nanoparticles with an average size of 8 nm that the correct determination of the contributions of the magnetic subsystems forming in antiferromagnetic nanoparticles requires magnetic measurements in much stronger external magnetic fields than those commonly used in standard experiments (up to 60–90 kOe). An analysis of the magnetization curves obtained in pulsed magnetic fields up to 250 kOe allows one to establish the contributions of the uncompensated particle magnetic moment μun, paramagnetic subsystem, and antiferromagnetic particle core. The μun value obtained for the investigated NiO particles is consistent with the Néel model, in which μun ∼ N1/2 (N is the number of magnetically active atoms in a particle), and thereby points out the existence of defects on the surface and in the bulk of a particle. It is demonstrated that the anomalous behavior of the high-field susceptibility dM/dH of antiferromagnetic NiO nanoparticles, which was observed by many authors, is caused by the existence of a paramagnetic subsystem, rather than by the superantiferromagnetism effect.