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Effect of inductively coupled plasma oxidation on properties of magnetic tunnel junctions

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4 Author(s)
Ohsung Song ; Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Seoul, Seoul, 130-743, Korea ; Lee, Y.M. ; Yoon, C.S. ; Kim, C.K.

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Magnetic tunnel junctions consisting of Ta(50 Å)/NiFe(50 Å)/IrMn(150 Å)/CoFe(50 Å)/Al(13 Å) –O/CoFe(40 Å)/NiFe(400 Å)/Ta(50 Å) with a 100×100 μm2 junction area were prepared. The AlOx tunnel barrier was produced by oxidizing the 13 Å thick Al metal using inductively coupled plasma (ICP) for 30–360 s and the ensuing junction properties were characterized as a function of oxidation time. It was found that a junction oxidized for 80 sec exhibited the highest magnetoresistance ratio, 30.3%, at room temperature. It was also shown that the junctions with an ICP oxidized tunnel barrier maintained the tunneling magnetoresistance ratio over 15% even when the insulator layer was oxidized for a prolonged period, well beyond the optimal oxidation time. The large processing window for the insulator oxidation was attributed to the dense amorphous AlOx structure formed by the ICP oxidation. © 2003 American Institute of Physics.

Published in:

Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:93 ,  Issue: 2 )