Inhomogeneous free layer in perpendicular magnetic tunnel junctions and its impact on the effective anisotropies and spin transfer torque switching efficiency

Abstract : Magnetoresistive and magnetoresonance measurements carried out on patterned perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction pillars and full-sheet films reveal magnetic inhomogeneities of FeCoB free layer grown on MgO and coated with Ta. At low FeCoB thicknesses, the layer behaves as an ensemble of weakly coupled grains resulting in a decrease of the free-layer thermal stability. In contrast, for thicker layers, the grains become more strongly coupled but strong magnetic inhomogeneities remain, yielding the emergence and further increase of a second-order magnetic anisotropy term (∼K 2eff cos 4 θ), eventually resulting in an easy-cone anisotropy. We show that the static and dynamic magnetic properties of such a free layer can be successfully described by a granular model with three thickness-dependent parameters: mean perpendicular anisotropy of the grains, grain-to-grain anisotropy distribution, and intergrain exchangelike coupling strength. Easy-cone anisotropy may help reduce the stochasticity of the spin transfer torque switching. However, it arises at intermediate values of the intergrain exchange coupling where the spin transfer torque (STT) switching efficiency is degraded, as shown by multimacrospin modeling. This is due to the excitation of exchange modes contributing weakly to the STT switching process while dissipating part of the STT energy.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-01578717
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Submitted on : Tuesday, August 29, 2017 - 4:17:45 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, April 4, 2019 - 9:44:02 AM

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A. A. Timopheev, B. M. S. Teixeira, R. C. Sousa, S. Auffret, T. N. Nguyen, et al.. Inhomogeneous free layer in perpendicular magnetic tunnel junctions and its impact on the effective anisotropies and spin transfer torque switching efficiency. Physical Review B : Condensed matter and materials physics, American Physical Society, 2017, 96, pp.14412 - 14412. ⟨10.1103/PhysRevB.96.014412⟩. ⟨hal-01578717⟩

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