Atomic-scale spectroscopic imaging of CoFeB/Mg–B–O/CoFeB magnetic tunnel junctions

Cha, J. J.; Read, J. C.; Egelhoff Jr., W. F.; Huang, P. Y.; Tseng, H. W.; Li, Y.; Buhrman, R. A.; Muller, D. A.
July 2009
Applied Physics Letters;7/20/2009, Vol. 95 Issue 3, p032506
Academic Journal
Atomic-scale electron spectroscopic imaging on sputtered magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) with a thin, <2 nm, MgO layer and B-alloyed electrodes reveals B diffusion into the MgO, resulting in a Mg–B–O tunnel barrier. This ∼2 nm thick interfacial layer forms due to oxidation of CoFeB during radio frequency sputtering of MgO and subsequent B diffusion into MgO during annealing. We measure a room-temperature tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) of ∼200% in IrMn/CoFeB/Mg–B–O/CoFeB MTJs after annealing, demonstrating that thin Mg–B–O barriers can produce relatively high TMR.


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