Evidence of substrate roughness surface induced magnetic anisotropy in Ni80Fe20 flexible thin films

Michal Belusky, Serban Lepadatu, John Naylor, Melvin Vopson

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Experimental and computational evidence of a surface roughness induced magnetic anisotropy in NiFe thin films coated onto substrates of various surface roughnesses is reported. Magnetic coercive fields of 15 nm NiFe thin films coated on substrates with approximately 7 nm average roughness were remarkably 233% larger than identical thin films coated onto smooth substrates with < 1 nm average roughness. The NiFe films coated onto rough substrates developed hard and easy axes, normally non-existent in NiFe Permalloy. A linear correlation of the incline angles of the hard axis hysteresis loops to the average roughness values of the individual substrates was observed, with 99% correlation level. Using a modified micromagnetics theory that incorporates the effects of surface roughness, it is shown the observed magnetic anisotropy arises due to the spatial anisotropy of the surface roughness, resulting in an effective in-plane uniaxial magnetic anisotropy with energy density up to 15 kJ/m3.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials
Early online date28 Jan 2019
Publication statusEarly online - 28 Jan 2019


  • Thin films
  • Surface roughness
  • Magnetic thin films
  • Magnetic anisotropy
  • Coercive field
  • Flexible thin films
  • Plasma sputtering


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