Evidence of non-Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya ferromagnetism in epitaxial BiFeO3 films

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X-ray diffraction analysis and high-resolution electron microscopy of BiFeO3 films prepared by dc magnetron sputtering on single-crystal LaAlO3 (001) substrates reveal that the films have a highly c-oriented orthorhombic crystalline structure. The magnetic properties of the BiFeO3 films are typical of ensembles of interacting superparamagnetic clusters, rather than Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya weak ferromagnets. The appearance of extrinsic nanoscale superparamagnetic clusters is explained by an oxygen deficiency in certain regions of the film, where ferromagnetic ordering can be realized through a double-exchange Zener mechanism.