Volume 86, Number 4, May 2009
Article Number 47003
Number of page(s) 6
Section Condensed Matter: Electronic Structure, Electrical, Magnetic and Optical Properties
Published online 03 June 2009
EPL, 86 (2009) 47003
DOI: 10.1209/0295-5075/86/47003

Magnetic compensation phenomenon and the sign reversal in the exchange bias field in a single crystal of Nd0.75Ho0.25Al2

P. D. Kulkarni, A. Thamizhavel, V. C. Rakhecha, A. K. Nigam, P. L. Paulose, S. Ramakrishnan and A. K. Grover

Department of Condensed Matter Physics and Materials Science, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Colaba, Mumbai, 400005 India

received 3 December 2008; accepted in final form 29 April 2009; published May 2009
published online 3 June 2009

In the Nd0.75Ho0.25Al2 alloy system, the magnetic moments of Nd and Ho occupying the same crystallographic site randomly are antiferromagnetically coupled via long-range indirect exchange interaction mediated by the conduction electrons. A single crystal grown at this stoichiometry displays a magnetic compensation behavior (Tcomp ~24  K) in all orientations. In the close vicinity of Tcomp, the magnetization hysteresis loops measured for H || [100] assume an asymmetric shape, and the notion of an exchange bias field (Hexch) surfaces. Hexch changes sign across Tcomp as the left shift of the loops transforms to the right shift. This phase reversal appears to correlate with the corresponding reversal in the directions of the local magnetic moments of Nd3+ and Ho3+ ions together with that of the conduction electron polarization (CEP). Near Tcomp, where the opposing contributions to the net magnetization from local magnetic moments are nearly equal, the contribution from CEP assumes an accentuated significance. Interestingly, the width of the M-H loop shows a divergence, followed by a collapse on approaching Tcomp from high- as well as low-temperature ends. The observed behavior confirms a long-standing prediction based on a phenomenological model for ferrimagnetic systems. The field-induced changes in the magnetization data leave an imprint of a quasi-phase transition in the heat capacity data. Magneto-resistance ($\Delta$ R/R vs. T) has an oscillatory response, in which onset of magnetic ordering and phase reversal in magnetic orientations can be recognized.

75.50.Ee - Antiferromagnetics.
71.20.Lp - Intermetallic compounds.
75.50.Vv - High coercivity materials.

© EPLA 2009