Journal article Open Access

Ion irradiation-induced easy-cone anisotropy in double-MgO free layers for perpendicular magnetic tunnel junctions

B. M. S. Teixeira; A. A. Timopheev; N. F. F. Caçoilo; S. Auffret; R. C. Sousa; B. Dieny; E. Alves; N. A. Sobolev


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    <subfield code="a">&lt;p&gt;We have used the ferromagnetic resonance in the X-band (9.37&amp;thinsp;GHz) to investigate the effect of 400&amp;thinsp;keV Ar&lt;sup&gt;+&lt;/sup&gt; irradiation on the perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) and Gilbert damping parameter, &amp;alpha;, of double-MgO free layers designed for application in perpendicular magnetic tunnel junctions. The samples comprised a MgO/Fe&lt;sub&gt;72&lt;/sub&gt;Co&lt;sub&gt;8&lt;/sub&gt;B&lt;sub&gt;20&lt;/sub&gt;/X(0.2&amp;thinsp;nm)/Fe&lt;sub&gt;72&lt;/sub&gt;Co&lt;sub&gt;8&lt;/sub&gt;B&lt;sub&gt;20&lt;/sub&gt;/MgO layer stack, where X stands for an ultrathin Ta or W spacer. Samples with two different total FeCoB layer thicknesses, t&lt;sub&gt;FCB&lt;/sub&gt;&amp;thinsp;=&amp;amp;thinsp;3.0&amp;thinsp;nm and t&lt;sub&gt;FCB&lt;/sub&gt;&amp;thinsp;=&amp;amp;thinsp;2.6&amp;thinsp;nm, were irradiated with ion fluences ranging from 10&lt;sup&gt;12&lt;/sup&gt;&amp;thinsp;cm&lt;sup&gt;&amp;minus;2&lt;/sup&gt; to 10&lt;sup&gt;16&lt;/sup&gt;&amp;thinsp;cm&lt;sup&gt;&amp;minus;2&lt;/sup&gt;. The effective first-order PMA field, B&lt;sub&gt;K1&lt;/sub&gt;, decreased nearly linearly with the logarithm of the fluence for both FeCoB thicknesses and spacer elements. The decrease in B&lt;sub&gt;K1&lt;/sub&gt;, which is likely caused by an ion-induced intermixing at the FeCoB/MgO interfaces, resulted in a reorientation of the magnetization of the free layers with t&lt;sub&gt;FCB&lt;/sub&gt;&amp;thinsp;=&amp;amp;thinsp;2.6&amp;thinsp;nm, initially exhibiting a perpendicular easy-axis anisotropy. For intermediate fluences, 10&lt;sup&gt;13&lt;/sup&gt;&amp;thinsp;cm&lt;sup&gt;&amp;minus;2&lt;/sup&gt; and 10&lt;sup&gt;14&lt;/sup&gt;&amp;thinsp;cm&lt;sup&gt;&amp;minus;2&lt;/sup&gt;, easy-cone states with different cone angles could be induced in the free layer with a W spacer. Importantly, no corresponding increase in the Gilbert damping was observed. This study shows that ion irradiation can be used to tune the easy-cone anisotropy in perpendicular magnetic tunnel junctions, which is interesting for spintronic applications such as spin-torque magnetic memory devices, oscillators, and sensors.&lt;/p&gt;</subfield>
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