We report a systematic study of room-temperature ferromagnetism (RTFM) in pristine MgO thin films in their amorphous and nano-crystalline states. The as deposited dc-sputtered films of pristine MgO on Si substrates using a metallic Mg target in an O2 containing working gas atmosphere of (N2 + O2) are found to be X-ray amorphous. All these films obtained with oxygen partial pressure (PO2) ~10% to 80% while maintaining the same total pressure of the working gas are found to be ferromagnetic at room temperature. The room temperature saturation magnetization (MS) value of 2.68 emu/cm3 obtained for the MgO film deposited in PO2 of 10% increases to 9.62 emu/cm3 for film deposited at PO2 of 40%. However, the MS values decrease steadily for further increase of oxygen partial pressure during deposition. On thermal annealing at temperatures in the range 600 to 800 °C, the films become nanocrystalline and as the crystallite size grows with longer annealing times and higher temperature, MS decreases. Our study clearly points out that it is possible to tailor the magnetic properties of thin films of MgO. The room temperature ferromagnetism in MgO films is attributed to the presence of Mg cation vacancies.
Dr. Sreekanth K. M., Fan, J., Biswas, A., Sreelatha, K. S., Belova, L., and Rao, K. V., “Magnetism of Amorphous and Nano-Crystallized Dc-Sputter-Deposited MgO Thin Films”, Nanomaterials, vol. 3, pp. 486–497, 2013.