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Giant magnetoresistance (GMR) in spin valves is due to spin-dependent scattering occurring at ferromagnet/normal metal (F/N) interfaces and/or in the ferromagnetic layers. In a spin valve with a typical F/N/F structure where the spin scattering asymmetry factor (alpha) of both F/N interfaces is the same (more or less than 1), the GMR is expected to be positive. If alpha is greater than one at one F/N interface and less than one at the other F/N interface, however, the GMR is expected to be negative. Here, we show that the F1/Cu/SAF/Cu/F2/IrMn dual spin valve structure exhibits negative GMR, where F1 and F2 are CoFe and SAF = CoFe/Ru t/CoFe, due to both opposite electron spin scattering asymmetry factor at the CoFe/Ru/CoFe interfaces as well as the electrical separation of the overall structure into two GMR spin valves connected in parallel. A GMR of 6% is observed in the structure without the Ru spacer layer, insertion of a 0.6 nm thick Ru in the SAF results in a negative GMR ratio of -3% , which becomes positive again at the Ru thickness of 0.8 nm, the oscillation from positive to negative MR is consistent with interlayer exchange coupling period across the Ru spacer.
Date of Publication: June 2009