Development of antiferromagnetic Heusler alloys for the replacement of iridium as a critically raw material

Atsufumi Hirohata, Teodor Huminiuc, John Sinclair, Haokaifeng Wu, Marjan Samiepour, Gonzalo Vallejo-Fernandez, Kevin O'Grady, Jan Balluf, Markus Meinert, Günter Reiss, Eszter Simon, Sergii Khmelevskyi, Laszlo Szunyogh, Rocio Yanes Díaz, Ulrich Nowak, Tomoki Tsuchiya, Tomoko Sugiyama, Takahide Kubota, Koki Takanashi, Nobuhito InamiKanta Ono

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As a platinum group metal, iridium (Ir) is the scarcest element on the earth but it has been widely used as an antiferromagnetic layer in magnetic recording, crucibles and spark plugs due to its high melting point. In magnetic recording, antiferromagnetic layers have been used to pin its neighbouring ferromagnetic layer in a spin-valve read head in a hard disk drive for example. Recently, antiferromagnetic layers have also been found to induce a spin-polarised electrical current. In these devices, the most commonly used antiferromagnet is an Ir-Mn alloy because of its corrosion resistance and the reliable magnetic pinning of adjacent ferromagnetic layers. It is therefore crucial to explore new antiferromagnetic materials without critical raw materials. In this review, recent research on new antiferromagnetic Heusler alloys and their exchange interactions along the plane normal is discussed. These new antiferromagnets are characterised by very sensitive magnetic and electrical measurement techniques recently developed to determine their characteristic temperatures together with atomic structural analysis. Mn-based alloys and compounds are found to be most promising based on their robustness against atomic disordering and large pinning strength up to 1.4 kOe, which is comparable with that for Ir-Mn. The search for new antiferromagnetic films and their characterisation are useful for further miniaturisation and development of spintronic devices in a sustainable manner.

Original languageEnglish
Article number443001
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2017


  • antiferromagnetic Heusler alloys
  • critical raw materials
  • iridium replacement
  • platinum group metals
  • UKRI
  • EP/ M02458X/1


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