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Interlayer exchange coupling and current induced magnetization switching in magnetic tunnel junctions with MgO wedge barrier

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7 Author(s)
Skowronski, Witold ; Department of Electronics, AGH University of Science and Technology, Al. Mickiewicza 30, 30-059 Kraków, Poland ; Stobiecki, Tomasz ; Wrona, Jerzy ; Rott, Karsten
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Current induced magnetization switching and interlayer exchange coupling (IEC) in sputtered CoFeB/MgO/CoFeB exchange-biased magnetic tunnel junctions with an extremely thin (0.96–0.62 nm) MgO wedge barrier is investigated. The IEC is found to be ferromagnetic for all samples and the associated energy increases exponentially down to a barrier thickness of 0.7 nm. Nanopillars with resistance area product ranging from 1.8 to 10 Ω μm2 and sizes of 0.13 μm2 down to 0.03 μm2 and tunneling magnetoresistance values of up to 170% were prepared. We found, that the critical current density increases with decreasing MgO barrier thickness. The experimental data and theoretical estimations show that the barrier thickness dependence of the spin transfer torque can largely be explained by a reduction in the tunnel current polarization at very small barrier thickness.

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Journal of Applied Physics  (Volume:107 ,  Issue: 9 )