Grain Growth Induced by FIB Milling
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Both momentum transfer and local heating in focused-ion-beam (FIB) milling [1] can cause considerable grain growth in some sensitive materials such as magnetic thin films with NiFe and FeCoN materials. This growth rate depends on the initial grain size, composition, and beam energy and current. For instance, NiFe and FeCoN showed more significant grain growth from ~20 to ~500 nm and ~20 to ~100 nm in size, respectively, caused by FIB milling at a dose of 0.15 nC/µm2. The NiFe films fibbed with the same ion dose ~0.15 nC/µm2 and different beam currents (99, 672, and 1500 pA) experienced similar grain growth, suggesting that the grain growth is driven by momentum transfer rather than local heating. It was also shown that FIB milling induced grain elongation and crystallographic twins in the NiFe films. These twins tended to be parallel to the fast axis of beam rastering, while the axis of elongation, if present, tended to be along slow axis of rastering. For fibbed FeCoN films, no acicular grains or twins were observed. This is believed to be due to the difference in crystal structure and twinning planes of the face-centered-cubic and body-centered-cubic structures.

[1] Focused-ion-beam induced grain growth in magnetic materials for recording heads, C.-M. Park and J. A. Bain, Journal of Applied Physics, 91(10) (2002) 6830.



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