Modeling of exchange bias in the antiferromagnetic (core)/ferromagnetic (shell) nanoparticles with specialized shapes
Zero-field-cooled (ZFC) and field-cooled (FC) hysteresis loops of egg- and ellipsoid-shaped nanoparticles with inverted ferromagnetic (FM)-antiferromagnetic (AFM) core-shell morphologies are simulated using a modified Monte Carlo method, which takes into account both the thermal fluctuations and energy barriers during the rotation of spin. Pronounced exchange bias (EB) fields and reduced coercivities are obtained in the FC hysteresis loops. The analysis of the microscopic spin configurations allows us to conclude that the magnetization reversal occurs by means of the nucleation process during both the ZFC and FC hysteresis branches. The nucleation takes place in the form of "sparks" resulting from the energy competition and the morphology of the nanoparticle. The appearance of EB in the FC hysteresis loops is only dependent on that the movements of "sparks" driven by magnetic field at both branches of hysteresis loops are not along the same axis, which is independent of the strength of AFM anisotropy. The tilt of "spark" movement with respect to the symmetric axis implies the existence of additional unidirectional anisotropy at the AFM/FM interfaces as a consequence of the surplus magnetization in the AFM core, which is the commonly accepted origin of EB. Our simulations allow us to clarify the microscopic mechanisms of the observed EB behavior, not accessible in experiments.