• XAFS;
  • X-ray standing wave;
  • multilayers;
  • ion-irradiation;
  • nanoclusters;
  • synthesis

In this work nanoclusters formed in a Pt/Ni/C multi-trilayer by the ion-irradiated method of synthesis are characterized. In particular, an attempt to understand the role of interfaces in the synthesis is made. With this objective, ion-irradiation-induced structural changes in a Pt/Ni/C multi-trilayer using X-ray absorption spectroscopy (at the Ni K-edge) in conjunction with the X-ray standing-wave technique are investigated. The XANES analysis identifies chemical binding at pristine Ni/C and Ni/Pt interfaces, in contrast with physical adsorption at the Pt/C interface. The chemical nature of the interfaces determines their relative stability with respect to irradiation and controls the extent of metallic diffusion. The most interesting structural change, upon irradiation, is the disruption of the Pt/C interface and subsequent migration of Pt atoms towards pre-diffused Ni atoms within the C layer, leading to the formation of Ni-centered Ni–Pt bimetallic nanoclusters (with Ni:Pt = 60:40). These clusters are highly disordered beyond their nearest neighbor and find wide-scale applications as, for example, magnetic devices etc. The implications of these findings on the design goals are discussed.