Low-resistance spin-dependent tunnel junctions with ZrAlO[sub x] barriers

Wang, Jianguo; Freitas, P. P.; Snoeck, E.
December 2001
Applied Physics Letters;12/31/2001, Vol. 79 Issue 27, p4553
Academic Journal
Spin-dependent tunnel junctions with ZrAlO[sub x] barriers were formed by natural oxidation (5 min at 10 Torr) of 7-Å-thick Zr–Al films. Resistance×area products of 6 Ω μm[sup 2] were achieved with a 15.3% tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) signal. Bottom-pinned (MnIr) junctions were deposited on top of 600-Å-thick, ion-beam-smoothed, low-resistance, Al electrodes. Effective average barrier height and thickness are 0.28 eV and 8.2 Å, respectively, and breakdown voltage is 0.41 V for 1 μm[sup 2] junctions. The TMR signal decreases by half at a bias voltage of 210 mV. Junction TMR decreases for anneals above 250 °C. High-resolution transmission electron microscopy indicates that ZrAlO[sub x] forms an amorphous barrier that is smoother than pure crystalline ZrO[sub x] or pure amorphous AlO[sub x] barriers. These low-resistance tunnel junctions are attractive for read head applications above 100 Gbit/in.[sup 2] where competitive signal-to-noise ratios imply resistance×area products of few Ω μm[sup 2] and TMR signals near or above 20%. © 2001 American Institute of Physics.


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