• arrays;
  • force microscopy;
  • ion irradiation;
  • magnetic materials;
  • pattern formation


Sub-100-nm magnetic dots embedded in a non-magnetic matrix are controllably generated by selective ion irradiation of paramagnetic Fe60Al40 (atomic %) alloys, taking advantage of the disorder-induced magnetism in this material. The process is demonstrated by sequential focused ion beam irradiation and by in-parallel broad-beam ion irradiation through lithographed masks. Due to the low fluences used, this method results in practically no alteration of the surface roughness. The dots exhibit a range of magnetic properties depending on the size and shape of the structures, with the smallest dots (<100 nm) having square hysteresis loops with coercivities in excess of µ0HC = 50 mT. Importantly, the patterning can be fully removed by annealing. The combination of properties induced by the direct magnetic patterning is appealing for a wide range of applications, such as patterned media, magnetic separators, or sensors.