Effect of Zr concentration on the microstructure of Al and the magnetoresistance properties of the magnetic tunnel junction with a Zr-alloyed Al–oxide barrier

Lee, Seong-Rae; Choi, Chul-Min; Kim, Young Keun
July 2003
Applied Physics Letters;7/14/2003, Vol. 83 Issue 2, p317
Academic Journal
We studied the composition dependence of the microstructure of Al-Zr alloy films and the tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) behavior of magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJ) with a Zr-alloyed Al-oxide barrier. A highly stable MTJ with a superior-quality 9.89 at. %Zr alloyed Al-oxide barrier was achieved with 39.5% TMR and a bias voltage of 711 mV at half (V[SUBh]) TMR. The microstructure of Al changed systematically from polycrystalline to single phase amorphous to duplex phases composed of an amorphous Al-Zr phase and a crystalline AlZr compound, probably Al[SUB3] Zr, as the Zr concentration increased. The microstructure of the Al-Zr alloy before oxidation has a dominant effect on the TMR characteristics and MTJ stability. A single amorphous Al-Zr alloy (∼10 at. %Zr) film has superior surface uniformity; consequently, an ultrahigh-quality oxide barrier was formed after oxidation.


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