Nanofabrication and ion milling introduced effects on magnetic properties in magnetic recording
Perpendicular magnetic nanostructures have played an important role in magnetic recording technologies. In this dissertation, a systematic study on the CoPt magnetic nanostructures from fabrication, characterization to computer simulation has been performed. During the fabrication process, ion irradiation/bombardment in ion mill can cause physical damage to the magnetic nanostructures and degrade their magnetic properties. To study the effect of ion damage on CoPt nanostructures, different degrees of ion damage are introduced into CoPt nanopillars by varying the accelerating voltage in ion mill. The results demonstrate that the ion damage can reduce the coercivity by softening circumferential edge, and therefore changes the switching mechanism from coherent rotation to nucleation followed by rapid domain wall propagation. The SFD of CoPt nanostructures is independent of ion damage and is mainly determined by the intrinsic anisotropy distribution of the film rather than the nanostructure size distribution. Anisotropy-graded bit-patterned media are fabricated and studied based on high anisotropy L10-FePt material system. L10-FePt thin films with linearly and quadratically distributed anisotropy are achieved by varying substrate temperature during film growth. After patterning, the anisotropy-graded L10-FePt nanopillars display a reduced switching field and maintain a good thermal stability compared to the non-graded one. Experimental investigation and comparison further prove the concept of "anisotropy-graded" bit-patterned media and their potential application in the future magnetic recording. During magnetic write head fabrication, ion-beam damage may degrade the performance of the magnetic write pole. A surface sensitive MOKE is used to characterize the magnetic properties of these etched FeCo films. MOKE measurement shows a hard axis hysteresis loop with a high Mr in the high power etched film due to the ion beam introduced defects. The high power etched film also shows the highest RMS by AFM measurement. The geometric peaks at the top surface may have shape anisotropy and serve as the pinning sites. These magnetic pinning sites can prevent the nucleation center forming at the top surface during the switching process and lead to a high Mr in the top surface region.