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      Electric field-induced magnetization reversal in a perpendicular-anisotropy CoFeB-MgO magnetic tunnel junction

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      Applied Physics Letters

      AIP Publishing

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          A perpendicular-anisotropy CoFeB-MgO magnetic tunnel junction.

          Magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) with ferromagnetic electrodes possessing a perpendicular magnetic easy axis are of great interest as they have a potential for realizing next-generation high-density non-volatile memory and logic chips with high thermal stability and low critical current for current-induced magnetization switching. To attain perpendicular anisotropy, a number of material systems have been explored as electrodes, which include rare-earth/transition-metal alloys, L1(0)-ordered (Co, Fe)-Pt alloys and Co/(Pd, Pt) multilayers. However, none of them so far satisfy high thermal stability at reduced dimension, low-current current-induced magnetization switching and high tunnel magnetoresistance ratio all at the same time. Here, we use interfacial perpendicular anisotropy between the ferromagnetic electrodes and the tunnel barrier of the MTJ by employing the material combination of CoFeB-MgO, a system widely adopted to produce a giant tunnel magnetoresistance ratio in MTJs with in-plane anisotropy. This approach requires no material other than those used in conventional in-plane-anisotropy MTJs. The perpendicular MTJs consisting of Ta/CoFeB/MgO/CoFeB/Ta show a high tunnel magnetoresistance ratio, over 120%, high thermal stability at dimension as low as 40 nm diameter and a low switching current of 49 microA.
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            Magnetic phase control by an electric field.

            The quest for higher data density in information storage is motivating investigations into approaches for manipulating magnetization by means other than magnetic fields. This is evidenced by the recent boom in magnetoelectronics and 'spintronics', where phenomena such as carrier effects in magnetic semiconductors and high-correlation effects in colossal magnetoresistive compounds are studied for their device potential. The linear magnetoelectric effect-the induction of polarization by a magnetic field and of magnetization by an electric field-provides another route for linking magnetic and electric properties. It was recently discovered that composite materials and magnetic ferroelectrics exhibit magnetoelectric effects that exceed previously known effects by orders of magnitude, with the potential to trigger magnetic or electric phase transitions. Here we report a system whose magnetic phase can be controlled by an external electric field: ferromagnetic ordering in hexagonal HoMnO3 is reversibly switched on and off by the applied field via magnetoelectric interactions. We monitor this process using magneto-optical techniques and reveal its microscopic origin by neutron and X-ray diffraction. From our results, we identify basic requirements for other candidate materials to exhibit magnetoelectric phase control.
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              Magnetization vector manipulation by electric fields.

              Conventional semiconductor devices use electric fields to control conductivity, a scalar quantity, for information processing. In magnetic materials, the direction of magnetization, a vector quantity, is of fundamental importance. In magnetic data storage, magnetization is manipulated with a current-generated magnetic field (Oersted-Ampère field), and spin current is being studied for use in non-volatile magnetic memories. To make control of magnetization fully compatible with semiconductor devices, it is highly desirable to control magnetization using electric fields. Conventionally, this is achieved by means of magnetostriction produced by mechanically generated strain through the use of piezoelectricity. Multiferroics have been widely studied in an alternative approach where ferroelectricity is combined with ferromagnetism. Magnetic-field control of electric polarization has been reported in these multiferroics using the magnetoelectric effect, but the inverse effect-direct electrical control of magnetization-has not so far been observed. Here we show that the manipulation of magnetization can be achieved solely by electric fields in a ferromagnetic semiconductor, (Ga,Mn)As. The magnetic anisotropy, which determines the magnetization direction, depends on the charge carrier (hole) concentration in (Ga,Mn)As. By applying an electric field using a metal-insulator-semiconductor structure, the hole concentration and, thereby, the magnetic anisotropy can be controlled, allowing manipulation of the magnetization direction.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Applied Physics Letters
                Appl. Phys. Lett.
                AIP Publishing
                0003-6951
                1077-3118
                September 17 2012
                September 17 2012
                : 101
                : 12
                : 122403
                Article
                10.1063/1.4753816
                © 2012
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