Switching stability of magnetic tunnel junctions with an artificial antiferromagnet

Schmalhorst, J.; Bru¨ckl, H.; Reiss, G.; Kinder, R.; Gieres, G.; Wecker, J.
November 2000
Applied Physics Letters;11/20/2000, Vol. 77 Issue 21
Academic Journal
Avoiding fatigue in the switching of magnetic tunnel junctions is crucial for their long-term use in nonvolatile magnetic memories. We compare the switching stability of two types of junctions with different soft layers: Fe or Ni[sub 81]Fe[sub 19], both with Co dusting at the barrier interface. The magnetically hard electrode is a Co/Cu/Co artificial antiferromagnet. While the tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) remains unchanged after 10[sup 4] cycles in a 4 kA/m rotating field, it decreases by more than 45% due to uniaxial switching. Fringing fields of domain walls in the soft layer and an intrinsic instability of Co/Cu/Co are identified as the main reasons. Magnetization reversal by two perpendicular switching pulses avoids this magnetic degradation and maintains a full TMR signal. © 2000 American Institute of Physics.


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