Magnetic anisotropy in Cr_(2)GeC investigated by X-ray magnetic circular dichroism and ab initio calculations

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The magnetism in the inherently nanolaminated ternary MAX-phase Cr_(2)GeC is investigated by element-selective, polarization and temperature-dependent, soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism. The measurements indicate an antiferro-magnetic Cr-Cr coupling along the c-axis of the hexagonal structure modulated by a ferromagnetic ordering in the nanolaminated ab-basal planes. The weak chromium magnetic moments are an order of magnitude stronger in the nanolaminated planes than along the vertical axis. Theoretically, a small but notable, non-spin-collinear component explains the existence of a non-perfect spin compensation along the c-axis. As shown in this work, this spin distortion generates an overall residual spin moment inside the unit cell resembling that of a ferri-magnet. Due to the different competing magnetic interactions, electron correlations and temperature effects both need to be considered to achieve a correct theoretical description of the Cr_(2)GeC magnetic properties.
© 2020 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved. We thank the staff at MAX IV Laboratory for experimental support. We thank P. Eklund, M. Bugnet and V. Mauchamp for providing the samples and M. Jaouen for discussions. This work was financially supported by the Swedish Research Council, Linnaeus Grant LiLi-NFM and the the Swedish Foundation for Strategic Research (SSF). M. Magnuson acknowledges financial support from the Swedish Energy Research (no. 43606-1) and the Carl Tryggers Foundation (CTS16:303, CTS14:310). M. Mattesini acknowledges financial support by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CGL2013-41860-P and CGL2017-86070-R).