Synchronization of a Spin Transfer oscillator to a RF current : mechanisms and room-temperature characterization.

Abstract : Spin transfer oscillators (STOs) are promising nanometer scaled oscillators (~100nm) for radiofrequency applications. They rely on the steady precession of the magnetization of a thin magnetic layer induced by spin-transfer torque (STT). A STO device based on a magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ) will typically generate an electrical signal with a frequency of the order of ten GHz and an output power of several nW. Compared to voltage controlled oscillators (VCO) used today for microwave generation, STOs have the advantage of having an important frequency tunability with current. However, criteria in terms of the quality of the output signal are not yet fulfilled for STO to be competitive.To enhance the STO signal properties, two suggestions are proposed: (i) optimization of the magnetic stack within a single STO device and (ii) synchronization of several STOs. The second approach was examined during this thesis: here we look at the electrical synchronization of a STO to a stabilized RF current source, or “injection-locking”. The case of a STO with homogenous magnetization of in-plane precession (IPP) type is investigated.Interestingly, synchronization of a STO at 2f, i.e. when the frequency of the injected current is close to twice the generation frequency of the STO, is favored compared to synchronization at f. The experimental results from several groups have shown both enhanced synchronization range and a more pronounced linewidth reduction at 2f.This singular behavior is examined first through an analytical study of magnetization dynamics along with numerical macrospin simulations, in order to identify synchronization mechanisms taking effect in the system.Indeed, current models (in particular the KTS auto-oscillator formalism) describe synchronization of a STO with making a clear distinction between synchronization at f and 2f, and the resulting predictions turn out to be insufficient at 2f. Here, by extension of the KTS formalism, the keys to the synchronization process at 2f are presented: frequency adjustment by adjustment of the oscillation amplitude via the STO non-linearity and modification of the anti-damping term through the phase-difference.The experimental characterization of the synchronized regime in a MTJ-based STO is also detailed in the manuscript. Utilizing experimental signal processing techniques in both frequency and temporal domain, we extract characteristic quantities for synchronization such as the locking-range and the phase-difference, and we compare these quantities with the analytical predictions. Finally, the effects of current injection on the coherence of the output signal are also discussed.
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Christophe Dieudonné. Synchronization of a Spin Transfer oscillator to a RF current : mechanisms and room-temperature characterization.. Materials Science [cond-mat.mtrl-sci]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015GREAY095⟩. ⟨tel-01686532⟩

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