Uncompensated magnetic moment and surface and size effects in few-nanometer antiferromagnetic NiO particles

Balaev, D. A.; Krasikov, A. A.; Popkov, S., I; Semenov, S., V; Volochaev, M. N.; et al./ Journal Of Magnetism And Magnetic Materials/ https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmmm.2021.168343


-The analysis of the M(H) magnetization curves of antiferromagnetic nanoparticles yields information about magnetic subsystems formed in these objects, which are characterized by a large fraction of surface atoms. However, in the conventionally investigated experimental magnetic field range of up to 60–90 kOe, this analysis often faces the ambiguity of distinguishing the Langevin function-simulated contribution of uncompensated magnetic moments μun of particles against the background of a linear-in-field dependence (the antiferromagnetic susceptibility and other contributions). Here, this problem has been solved using a pulsed technique, which makes it possible to significantly broaden the range of external fields in which the μun contribution approaches the saturation. Nanoparticles of a typical NiO antiferromagnet with an average size of <d> ~ 4.5 nm have been investigated. Based on the thorough examination of the M(H) magnetization curves measured in pulsed fields of up to 250 kOe, a model of the magnetic state of NiO nanoparticles of such a small size has been proposed. The average moment is ~130 μB (μB is the Bohr magneton) per particle, which corresponds to 60–70 decompensated spins of nickel atoms localized, according to the Néel hypothesis (μun ~ <d>3/2), both on the surface and in the bulk of a particle. A part of the surface spins unrelated to the antiferromagnetic core form another subsystem, which behaves as free paramagnetic atoms. Along with the antiferromagnetic core, an additional linear-in-field contribution has been detected, which is apparently related to superantiferromagnetism, i.e., the size effect inherent to small antiferromagnetic particles.