Spin transfer torque driven magnetization switching in magnetic tunnel junction

Abstract : Spin Transfer Torque - Magnetic Random Access Memories – STT-MRAM – are developed as a new type of memory which could replace DRAM or SRAM. In the case of STT- MRAM, each memory point is a nanopillar magnetic tunnel junction composed of two magnetic layers separated by an oxide barrier. The multilayer stack can be grown under ultra-high vacuum using Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE) or Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD). Those systems are developed by the company Vinci Technologies (sponsoring this PhD work). The tunnel magnetoresistance signal which depends on the relative orientation of the two magnetizations is used to read the information stored in the device. The writing of the information in the device is realized thanks to the spin transfer torque effect, which allows magnetization manipulation using a spin current. The thermal stability of the device is given by the energy barrier separating the two magnetization orientations (up and down in the case of a perpendicular device). For STT-MRAM to be a competitive technology, the critical voltage needed for magnetization switching (writing voltage) as well as the switching time have to be reduced while the thermal stability remains high enough to ensure the retention of information. During my thesis, in collaboration with Vinci-Technologies several tools to grow thin films have been optimized. With such equipment, we were able to grow thin films with well characterized perpendicular (out-of-plane) anisotropy. I have then focused my study on industrial STT-MRAM devices (from two companies: IBM and STT) with an out-of-plane magnetization direction so as to understand the mechanism of current induced magnetization switching. By doing so, I could identify the relevant parameters influencing the switching voltage value and propose solutions to lower it while preserving thermal stability. Through a probabilistic study of magnetization reversal, coupled with macrospin and micromagnetic modeling studies, I have evidenced different switching mechanisms depending on the initial magnetic configuration. Indeed both the stray field from one magnetic layer to the other and the shape of the nanopillar have a large impact on magnetization manipulation
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Marion Lavanant. Spin transfer torque driven magnetization switching in magnetic tunnel junction. Physics [physics]. Université de Lorraine, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017LORR0122⟩. ⟨tel-01761918⟩

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