Enhanced Magnetization of Cobalt Defect Clusters Embedded in TiO2-δ Films
High magnetizations are desirable for spintronic devices that operate by manipulating electronic states using built-in magnetic fields. However, the magnetic moment in promising dilute magnetic oxide nanocomposites is very low, typically corresponding to only fractions of a Bohr magneton for each dopant atom. In this study, we report a large magnetization formed by ion implantation of Co into amorphous TiO2-¿ films, producing an inhomogeneous magnetic moment, with certain regions producing over 2.5 ¿B per Co, depending on the local dopant concentration. Polarized neutron reflectometry was used to depth-profile the magnetization in the Co:TiO2-¿ nanocomposites, thus confirming the pivotal role of the cobalt dopant profile inside the titania layer. X-ray photoemission spectra demonstrate the dominant electronic state of the implanted species is Co0, with a minor fraction of Co2+. The detected magnetizations have seldom been reported before and lie near the upper limit set by Hund's rules for Co0, which is unusual because the transition metal's magnetic moment is usually reduced in a symmetric 3D crystal-field environment. Low-energy positron annihilation lifetime spectroscopy indicates that defect structures within the titania layer are strongly modified by the implanted Co. We propose that a clustering motif is promoted by the affinity of the positively charged implanted species to occupy microvoids native to the amorphous host. This provides a seed for subsequent doping and nucleation of nanoclusters within an unusual local environment.