Correlating the Nanoscale Structural, Magnetic, and Magneto-Transport Properties in $SrRuO_3$-Based Perovskite Thin Films: Implications for Oxide Skyrmion Devices

G. Malsch, D. Ivaneyko, P. Milde, L. Wysocki, L. Yang, P. H. M. van Loosdrecht, I. Lindfors-Vrejoiu, and L. M. Eng


We investigated the structural and magnetic properties of bare SrRuO3 (SRO) ultrathin films and $SrRuO_3$/$SrIrO_3$/$SrZrO_3$ (SRO/SIO/SZO: RIZ) trilayer heterostructures between 10 and 80 K, by comparing macroscopic data using the magneto-optical Kerr effect (MOKE) and magneto-transport (anomalous Hall effect: AHE), with nanoscale fingerprints when applying noncontact scanning force microscopy (nc-SFM) and magnetic force microscopy (MFM). SRO and RIZ ultrathin films were epitaxially grown at 650 °C onto vicinal $SrTiO_3$ (100) single-crystalline substrates to a nominal thickness of 4 and 4/2/2 unit cells (uc), respectively. Our correlated analysis allows associating topographic sample features of overgrown individual layers to their residual magnetization, as is shown here to be relevant for interpreting the macroscopic AHE data. Although the hump-like features in the AHE suggest a magnetically textured skyrmion phase to exist around 55 K associated with the topological Hall effect (THE), both our MOKE and MFM data cannot support this theory for the ultrathin films investigated. In contrast, our SFM/MFM local-scale analysis finds the local coercive field to be strongly dependent on the effective layer thickness and stoichiometry in both the SRO and RIZ samples, with a huge impact on the local band structure. In fact, it is these variations that in turn mimic a potential THE through anomalies in the AHE resistivity loops.

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