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Impact of structural defects on spin-polarized transport across magnetic tunnel junctions

Abstract : In the manuscript it is presented how the spin-polarized transport across magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJ) is affected by presence of structural defects within the barrier and at its interfaces. Studies concern structures incorporating SrTiO3, TiO2 and MgO insulators. In case of the first two structures it is shown how interfacial oxidation results in the drastically reduced value of the tunnelmagnetoresistance (TMR). In case of the MgO barrier, extensive studies on defect sites within the crystalline network of the insulator are performed. It is shown that one may control density of certain types of oxygen vacancies by altering growth conditions of the MgO layer. Further electrical and optical studies give insight into energetical positioning of these defect sites. Extension of the Î magnetotransport analysis method from the ‘absolute’ to the ‘relative’ case reveals several regimes of transport across CoFeB/MgO/CoFeB junctions. The low-temperature ‘intrinsic’ regime is attributed exclusively to the band structure effects of the CoFeB electrodes, whereas the mid- to room-temperature ‘extrinsic’ regimes result from the gradual incidence of thermally activated defect sites on the spin-polarized transport, which is accompanied by an increased reduction of both the resistance and the TMR signal. Initial experiments show that optical excitation of the defect sites has a crucial impact on the magnetotransport.
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Filip Schleicher. Impact of structural defects on spin-polarized transport across magnetic tunnel junctions. Other [cond-mat.other]. Université de Strasbourg, 2012. English. ⟨NNT : 2012STRAE036⟩. ⟨tel-00864726⟩

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