High switching speed, endurance, and low-current-based perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction (p-MTJ) memory is attracting wide interest as a key promising candidate for next-generation spintronic memory technology. p-MTJ-based spin-transfer torque RAM (STT-RAM) has been extensively investigated, and despite the promise, there is concern about the high switching current density and low stability with regard to scaling. In this work, the current controllability of p-MTJ in iron (Fe)-enriched Co20Fe60B20 with a newly designed MgOxN1-x tunnel layer is systematically investigated, with the expectation that the introduction of N minimizes the oxidation of Fe to improve the performance of the device. A facile, plasma-based oxynitridation (MgOx= 0.57N1-x=0.43) of MgO through RF-sputter deposition serves as a reliable procedure to establish a tunnel barrier for an MTJ structure fabricated with 300-nm diameter and pinned with synthetic antiferromagnetic (SAF) [Co/Pt]n multilayer stack. Current-controlled tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) up to 65% was observed at room temperature (RT) with ultralow switching current density (Jc) of 136 ± 17 kA/cm2. TMR along with tunnel conductance (g(V)) was measured to be highly stable in the read-bias regime (-200 to +200 mV) for MgOxN1-x as compared to the reported MgO barrier. The analogous MgOxN1-x-based MTJ structures were modeled using the nonequilibrium Green's function (NEGF) with appropriate tunnel barrier parameters and incorporating modulated barrier height as compared with the MgO barrier. The current-voltage characteristics of the modeled device showed close agreement with experimental data indicating high spin current. Based on the field-induced magnetization analysis, the macro-magnetic reversal analysis suggests the free-layer switching duration of 3 ns. These observations show the strong candidature of MgOxN1-x (x = 0.57) MTJs for STT-RAM device application.
- Low current density
- perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction (p-MTJ)
- tunnel barrier
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering