RF-sputtered amorphous carbon (a-C) offers a simple and cheap pathway to tune the magnetic properties of transition metal thin films for magnetic memories and different spintronic applications. This paper describes changes in the magnetic properties of iron thin films with a-C overlayers. In as-deposited samples, hybridisation and intermixing at the Fe/a-C interface leads to magnetic softening (Liu et al., 2006) , with a reduction in the coercive field (Hc) up to a factor of five for Fe/a-C/Fe trilayers, and a 10–30% lower saturation magnetization as a function of the metal film thickness. After annealing at 500 °C, inter-diffusion and graphitization of the carbon layer results in up to a factor five increased coercivity due to increased pinning as shown via Kerr microscopy. Therefore, RF-sputtered carbon overlayers and post-processing can tune the anisotropy and domain configuration of metallic thin films in a synthesis methodology that is simple, cheap and sustainable.
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