Surface spin disorder in nickel ferrite nanomagnets studied by in-field Mössbauer spectroscopy

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The magnetic structure of NiFe2O4 nanoparticles has been investigated by means of Mössbauer spectra at T = 4.2 K in applied fields up to 12 T. Four samples were studied, with mean particle diameters ranging from 4.3 to 8.9 nm. All spectra could be decomposed into three sextets, two corresponding to the ferrimagnetic sublattices of Fe ions in the spinel structure (core) and the third one to randomly frozen spins near the particle surface (shell). The shell thickness, calculated from the fraction of disordered spins, was found to be about one-third of the particle radius at Happ = 0 and to decrease with the applied field toward a common limit of ∼0.4 nm. The mean canting angle relative to the field was also found to decrease for increasing fields, at a rate inversely correlated to the particle size.

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