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In-situ magnetoresistance measurements during patterning of spin valve devices

By Deborah Morecroft


This dissertation describes an experimental study on the patterning of thin films and spin valve devices. Initially the change in the magnetisation reversal of ferromagnetic Ni80Fe15Mo5 thin films was investigated as the shape anisotropy was increased using optical lithography to pattern wire arrays. These structures show a progressive increase in coercivity and a transition between single and two-stage reversal with increasing milling depth. A similar patterning technique was applied to unpinned (Ni80Fe20/Cu/Ni80Fe20) pseudo spin valve (PSV) structures in order to enhance the coercivity of one of the ferromagnetic layers. The increased coercivity induced by micropatterning changed the natural similarity of the magnetic layers and the structure exhibited a small spin valve response. These initial measurements were carried out with separate milling and electrical characterisation steps. However, it was decided that it would be ideal to design a technique to do in-situ magnetoresistance measurements during milling. This meant that the samples could be milled and characterised in the same step, leading to a much cleaner and more efficient process. In-situ magnetoresistance measurements were carried out during micropatterning of PSV devices, and the measurements showed the evolution in the electrical response as wire structures were gradually milled through the thickness. Contrary to what was expected, the structures showed a maximum spin valve response when fully milled through. The effect of further increasing the shape anisotropy by reducing the wire width, and changing the material properties in the PSV structure has also been investigated. MR measurements were taken as the temperature was increased from 291K to 493K, and the results show that the patterned PSV structures have a better thermal stability than exchange biased spin valves with an IrMn pinning layer. The experiment was extended to the nanoscale, and the results show that a significant increase in MR is not observed despite the fact that the magnetic configuration tends more towards single domain. This is thought to be due to an increase in the initial resistance of the structures. A small increase in MR was observed as the wire width was decreased from 730 to 470nm, although the spin valve response is heavily dependent on the gallium dosage density during patterning in the Focused Ion Beam (FIB). Micromagnetic simulations were carried out, which agree with the experimental results and showed the change in the magnetisation reversal from rotation to switching as the dimensions were reduced on the nanoscale

Topics: magnetoresistance, spin-valve
Publisher: Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy
Year: 2003
OAI identifier:
Provided by: Apollo

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