Current-induced magnetization switching in magnetic tunnel junctions

Liu, Yaowen; Zhang, Zongzhi; Freitas, P. P.; Martins, J. L.
April 2003
Applied Physics Letters;4/28/2003, Vol. 82 Issue 17, p2871
Academic Journal
Current-induced magnetization switching (CIMS) in low-resistance magnetic tunnel junctions was shown at average critical current densities (J[SUBc] = 1.33 × 10[SUB6] A/cm[SUP2]). When large vertical currents pass through the junctions, spin-transfer torque, and vortex fields can rotate the magnetization of the free layer from the initial parallel state to a vortex state, resulting in 10.8% CIMS resistance change at zero-bias current, which is about half of the resistance change (22%) induced when switching is created by an external field. A micromagnetic simulation including the spin-transfer torque and the vortex field correctly predicts the critical negative-current-inducing switching from the parallel state into the vortex state, but fails to explain the reverse switching from the vortex state into the parallel state at an approximately symmetric positive critical current. Lead fields were analyzed and found to be not the cause of the observed switching. The very small dependence of the switching currents on an external magnetic field suggests the existence of hot-spots where local current densities may be much larger.


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