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Thermal stability of magnetic tunnel junctions with new amorphous ZrAl-alloy films as the under and capping layers

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3 Author(s)
Choi, Chul-Min ; Div. of Mater. Sci. & Eng., Korea Univ., Seoul, South Korea ; Song, Jin-Oh ; Lee, Seong-Rae

We studied the thermal stability of new amorphous ZrAl-based magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) with a ZrAl-oxide barrier replacing the Ta layers traditionally used for the under and capping layers. The MTJs were compared with similar conventional MTJs (Ta-based MTJ with Al-oxide). After annealing at various temperatures up to 450°C, the ZrAl-based MTJs still had a significant tunnel magnetoresistance signal of nearly 21%. The thermal stability of amorphous ZrAl-based and conventional Ta-based MTJs differs dramatically, mainly because of the different microstructural evolution. The noncrystalline ZrAl-alloy film had superior surface uniformity and an induced microstructure that resisted interdiffusion, with dense, equiaxed grains making up the upper stacks' films. By contrast, the conventional Ta-based MTJ had a broad columnar structure with less dense boundaries, which act as a source of interdiffusion, resulting in barrier deformation at elevated temperatures.

Published in:

Magnetics, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:41 ,  Issue: 10 )

Date of Publication:

Oct. 2005

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