Electronic Structure and Ferromagnetism Modulation in Cu/Cu₂O Interface: Impact of Interfacial Cu Vacancy and Its Diffusion



Cu/Cu₂O composite structures have been discovered to show sizable ferromagnetism (FM) with the potential applications in spintronic devices. To date, there is no consensus on the FM origin in Cu/Cu₂O systems. Here, first principles calculations are performed on the interface structure to explore the microscopic mechanism of the FM. It is found that only the Cu vacancy (VCu) adjacent to the outermost Cu₂O layer induces a considerable magnetic moment, mostly contributed by 2p orbitals of the nearest-neighbor oxygen atom (O_(NN)) with two dangling bonds and 3d orbitals of the Cu atoms bonding with the (O_(NN)). Meanwhile, the charge transfer from Cu to Cu₂O creates higher density of states at the Fermi level and subsequently leads to the spontaneous FM. Furthermore, the FM could be modulated by the amount of interfacial VCu, governed by the interfacial Cu diffusion with a moderate energy barrier (~1.2 eV). These findings provide insights into the FM mechanism and tuning the FM via interfacial cation diffusion in the Cu/Cu₂O contact.


Includes supplementary information


Ferromagnetism, Electronic structure, Copper, Copper oxide


This work was supported by the NSF of China (Nos 11104148, 51171082, 11304161 and 11404172), 1000 youth talents plan, Tianjin NSF (Nos 13JCYBJC41100, 14JCZDJC37700 and 13JCQNJC02800), the National Basic Research Program of China (973 Program with No 2014CB931703), the SRFDP (20110031110034), and Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities.


CC BY 4.0 (Attribution) License, ©2015 The Authors