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Correlating interfacial structure and magnetism in Fe-MgO thin films using electron microscopy, x-ray and neutron reflectometry


A new generation of high efficiency electric motor designs requires novel soft magnetic composite materials, comprised of insulated powder metals. We have developed a multi-scale characterization methodology to study soft magnetic composites that can be applied to a myriad of magnetic systems. By correlating atomic structure and magnetic order, we will be able to precisely tailor processing conditions to achieve desired properties in magnetic materials.

Powder metals have the potential to replace lamination steels used in induction cores, offering better formability and improved high frequency response. These powders must first be coated with an electrically-resistive, magnetically-permeable material that can withstand high compaction pressures and annealing in excess of 500 °C. Oxide coatings, particularly Fe-MgO, have been shown to reduce the eddy current losses associated with the magnetization of these materials. Using thin film deposition we can model and study the interface between the iron core and oxide shell.