Magnetic force microscopy studies of magnetic domain structure in LaCoO₃ and UMn₂Ge₂
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Magnetic force microscopy studies in varying temperature and applied external magnetic field of magnetic thin films of LaCoO₃ under strain and single crystal UMn₂Ge₂ have been performed. In the case of LaCoO₃ thin films the aim is an understanding of the response of the magnetic microstructure to different signs and degrees of strain and a further attempt to distinguish the effect of defects from strain-induced effects. In UMn₂Ge₂ the magnetic microstructure is imaged for the first time and signatures of a possible phase transition at 150 K and crystalline anisotropy are explored. The first portion of this dissertation focuses on the synthesis methods used to produce the samples investigated and the critical role of synthesis in producing high-quality samples. This is followed by a discussion of characterization techniques used to obtain local and global magnetic and structural characteristics, with particular emphasis on magnetic force microscopy including noise characteristics and a discussion of achieving a high force gradient sensitivity by optimizing the fiber-optic interferometer used for cantilever deflection detection. Design elements and features of the multi-mode variable-temperature atomic force microscope used to obtain magnetic force microscopy images are presented and results for LaCoO₃ and UMn₂Ge₂ are discussed.