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We present a study of the influence of substrate roughness on the magnetic properties of thin fcc Co films (7 and 17 nm thick) grown on Cu(001)/Si(001). A significant decrease in cubic anisotropy with increasing film roughness was observed with Brillouin light scattering and magneto-optical Kerr effect magnetometry. In addition, the rougher samples showed a substantial broadening of the spin wave peaks. Both effects were found to be more pronounced for the thinner Co layers. Our observations are discussed in the framework of a theoretical model which takes into account the morphology of the Co films as measured by atomic force microscopy. While roughness effects are usually discussed in the context of Néel's "orange-peel" model, we propose a qualitatively different effect in this work whereby the magnetization follows coherently the substrate morphology ("undulating" state) resulting in the absence of magnetic surface charges. This magnetic configuration gives rise to a reduction in the magnetic anisotropy of epitaxial thin films, which is in good qualitative agreement with the experimental observations. © 2007 The American Physical Society.

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Journal article


Physical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics

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