Surface segregation in chromium-doped NiCr alloy nanoparticles and its effect on their magnetic behavior

Murtaza Bohra*, Panagiotis Grammatikopoulos, Rosa E. Diaz, Vidyadhar Singh, Junlei Zhao, Jean François Bobo, Antti Kuronen, Flyura Djurabekova, Kai Nordlund, Mukhles Sowwan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Surface segregation designates the phenomenon of variation in chemical composition between the surface and the bulk of an alloy, which can have a beneficial or detrimental effect on its physical and chemical properties. This is even more pronounced in nanoalloys, i.e., alloy systems comprised of nanoparticles, with significant surface-to-volume ratios. In this case study we demonstrate the element-specific Cr segregation in Ni-rich NiCr alloy nanoparticles and nanogranular films grown by gas-phase synthesis methods. In situ annealing measurements (300-800 K), performed under vacuum using aberration-corrected environmental transmission electron microscopy (E-TEM), and vibrating sample magnetometry (VSM) revealed progressive Cr segregation with annealing temperature and subsequent complete transformation into core-satellite structures at 700 K. Simultaneously, atomistic computer simulations (molecular dynamics (MD) and Metropolis Monte Carlo (MMC)) elucidated the resultant structures, explaining the driving force behind segregation energetically. Most importantly, we emphasize the significant effects of Cr segregation on magnetic properties, namely, (i) the highly nonsaturated M-H loops (below the Néel temperature of antiferromagnetic Cr) with reduced coercivities and (ii) the uncompensated high Curie temperatures, TC, compared to the NiCr bulk, which approach bulk Ni values upon annealing. Both are clear evidence that the distribution of Cr in the nearest-neighbor shells of Ni atoms differs from that of the bulk NiCr alloy, reconfirming our structural findings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3216-3225
Number of pages10
JournalChemistry of Materials
Issue number9
StatePublished - 12 May 2015
Externally publishedYes


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