Coexistence of fcc and bcc-like crystal structures in ultrathin Fe films grown on Cu(111)

A. Biedermann1, M. Schmid2, P.Varga2

1 Institut für Materialphysik, Universität Wien, 1090 Wien, Austria
2 Institut für Allgemeine Physik, Technische Universität Wien, 1040 Wien, Austria

Phys. Rev. B 73 (2006), 165418

We report on bcc-like phases in ultrathin Fe films grown by thermal deposition on Cu(111) previously thought to consist exclusively of fcc phases distinguished only by their magnetic order. Our scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy data together with published X-ray photoelectron diffraction results [M. T. Kief and W. F. Egelhoff, Jr., Phys. Rev. B 47, 10785 (1993)] provides us with sufficient detail to deduce the film structure. Two growth regimes are considered: (1) Films with 1-2 monolayer average thickness grown near 200 K, which nucleate as bcc-like bilayer islands: Larger islands show bcc-like fringes coexisiting with an fcc center domain, i.e., the bcc-like phase is stable only within a certain distance to a step edge. The presence of a bcc-like bilayer phase provides a straightforward explanation for the ferromagnetism previously observed in these films. In addition we find that the bcc-like phase can be promoted by H adsorption at 80 K. The bcc domains form "displacement vortex" structures to simultaneously minimize film stress and interface energy. (2) In films grown at room temperature, between pseudomorphic fcc areas, we observe a more ideal but still strained bcc phase in regions with a local thickness of at least 4 monolayers. Also in this growth regime, the fcc-bcc transformation is facilitated by step edges, which are abundant due to the imperfect layer-by-layer growth.

Corresponding author: A. Biedermann. Reprints also available from M. Schmid (schmid< encoded email address >).

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