The effect of interface roughness on magnetic properties of exchange coupled polycrystalline Co/CoO(t AF)/Co trilayers has been investigated by varying antiferromagnetic layer (CoO) thickness. It has been found that the upper CoO/Co interface becomes rougher with increasing CoO layer thickness, resulting in stronger exchange bias of the upper interface than the lower one. The interfacial exchange coupling is strengthened by the increase of defect-generated uncompensated antiferromagnetic spins; such spins form coupling with spins in the Co layer at the interface. As a result, the CoO layer thickness dependence of exchange bias is much enhanced for the upper Co layer. The transition from anisotropic magnetoresistance to isotropic magnetoresistance for the top Co layer has also been found. This could be attributed to the defects, probably partial thin oxide layers, between Co grains in the top Co layer that leads a switch from spin-orbit scattering related magnetoresistance to spin-dependent electron scattering dominated magnetoresistance.
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