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Reduction of Resistivity in Cu Thin Films by Partial Oxidation: Microstructural Mechanisms

By Michael F. Toney, Et Al, Walter L. Prater, Emily L. Allen, R. Lawrence Comstock, Michael F. Toney, Jonathan Daniels and Jonathan Hedstrom


We report the electrical resistance and microstructure of sputter deposited copper thin films grown in an oxygen containing ion-beam sputtering atmosphere. For films thinner than 5 nm, 2-10% oxygen causes a decrease in film resistance, while for thicker films there is a monotonic increase in resistivity. X-ray reflectivity measurements show significantly smoother films for these oxygen flow rates. X-ray diffraction shows that the oxygen doping causes a refinement of the copper grain size and the formation of cuprous oxide. We suggest that the formation of cuprous oxide limits copper grain growth, which causes smoother interfaces, and thus reduces resistivity by increasing specular scattering of electrons at interfaces. 1 Recently, magnetic recording areal densities have increased at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 100 % 1, which has lead to a demand for higher readback sensitivity from the spinvalve sensors used in recording technology. One approach to achieve higher sensitivity is the enhancement of the spin-value giant magnetoresistance (GMR) through an increase in specular electron scattering at interfaces 1-3 in the spin valve. This enhancement partially results from an increased mean free path of majority spin-polarized electrons through reflection at interfaces

Year: 2003
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