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  1. The ferrimagnetic inverse spinel NiCo 2 O 4 has attracted extensive research interest for its versatile electrochemical properties, robust magnetic order, high conductivity, and fast spin dynamics, as well as its highly tunable nature due to the closely coupled charge, spin, orbital, lattice, and defect effects. Single-crystalline epitaxial thin films of NiCo 2 O 4 present a model system for elucidating the intrinsic physical properties and strong tunability, which are not viable in bulk single crystals. In this Perspective, we discuss the recent advances in epitaxial NiCo 2 O 4 thin films, focusing on understanding its unusual magnetic and transport properties in light of crystal structure and electronic structure. The perpendicular magnetic anisotropy in compressively strained NiCo 2 O 4 films is explained by considering the strong spin–lattice coupling, particularly on Co ions. The prominent effect of growth conditions reveals the complex interplay between the crystal structure, cation stoichiometry, valence state, and site occupancy. NiCo 2 O 4 thin films also exhibit various magnetotransport anomalies, including linear magnetoresistance and sign change in anomalous Hall effect, which illustrate the competing effects of band-intrinsic Berry phase and impurity scattering. The fundamental understanding of these phenomena will facilitate the functional design of NiComore »2 O 4 thin films for nanoscale spintronic applications.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 14, 2023
  2. The inverse spinel ferrimagnetic NiCo 2 O 4 possesses high magnetic Curie temperature T C , high spin polarization, and strain-tunable magnetic anisotropy. Understanding the thickness scaling limit of these intriguing magnetic properties in NiCo 2 O 4 thin films is critical for their implementation in nanoscale spintronic applications. In this work, we report the unconventional magnetotransport properties of epitaxial (001) NiCo 2 O 4 films on MgAl 2 O 4 substrates in the ultrathin limit. Anomalous Hall effect measurements reveal strong perpendicular magnetic anisotropy for films down to 1.5 unit cell (1.2 nm), while T C for 3 unit cell and thicker films remains above 300 K. The sign change in the anomalous Hall conductivity [Formula: see text] and its scaling relation with the longitudinal conductivity ([Formula: see text]) can be attributed to the competing effects between impurity scattering and band intrinsic Berry curvature, with the latter vanishing upon the thickness driven metal–insulator transition. Our study reveals the critical role of film thickness in tuning the relative strength of charge correlation, Berry phase effect, spin–orbit interaction, and impurity scattering, providing important material information for designing scalable epitaxial magnetic tunnel junctions and sensing devices using NiCo 2 O 4 .
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 13, 2023