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Title: Magnetism reflectometer study shows LiF layers improve efficiency in spin valve devices

Abstract

New, more efficient materials for spin valves - a device used in magnetic sensors, random access memories, and hard disk drives - may be on the way based on research using the magnetism reflectometer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Spin valve devices work by means of two or more conducting magnetic material layers that alternate their electrical resistance depending on the layers alignment. Giant magnetoresistance is a quantum mechanical effect first observed in thin film structures about 20 years ago. The effect is observed as a significant change in electrical resistance, depending on whether the magnetization of adjacent ferromagnetic layers is in a parallel or an antiparallel magnetic alignment. 'What we are doing here is developing new materials. The search for new materials suitable for injecting and transferring carriers with a preferential spin orientation is most important for the development of spintronics,' said Valeria Lauter, lead instrument scientist on the magnetism reflectometer at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), who collaborated on the experiment. The researchers discovered that the conductivity of such materials is improved when an organic polymer semiconductor layer is placed between the magnetic materials. Organic semiconductors are now the material of choice for future spin valve devicesmore » because they preserve spin coherence over longer times and distances than conventional semiconductors. While research into spin valves has been ongoing, research into organic semiconductors is recent. Previous research has shown that a 'conductivity mismatch' exists in spin valve systems in which ferromagnetic metal electrodes interface with such organic semiconductors as Alq3 ({pi}-conjugated molecule tris(8-hydroxy-quinoline) aluminium). This mismatch limits the efficient injection of the electrons from the electrodes at the interface with the semiconductor material. However, lithium fluoride (LiF), commonly used in light-emitting diodes, has been found to enhance the injection of electrons through the semiconductor. Researchers from the University of Alabama and ORNL used polarized neutrons at the magnetism reflectometer at SNS to investigate the electronic, magnetic, and structural properties of the electrodes in a novel system. In this system, the magnetic layers cobalt and Ni{sub 80}Fe{sub 20} are interfaced with spacer layers composed of the organic semiconductor Alq3. A coupling layer of LiF is inserted to separate the magnetized layers from the semiconductor. 'ALQ3 is an organic semiconductor material,' said Lauter. 'Normally in these systems a first magnetic layer is grown on a hard substrate so that one can get the controlled magnetic parameters. Then you grow the organic semiconductor layer, followed by another magnetic material layer, such as cobalt.' In addition to determining the effect of the LiF layers on the efficiency of the electron injection, the researchers wanted to determine the magnetic properties of the cobalt and Ni{sub 80}Fe{sub 20} as well as the interfacial properties: whether there is interdiffusion of cobalt through the LiF layer to the semiconductor, for example. The researchers used polarized neutrons at beam line 4A to probe the entire, layer-by-layer assembly of the system. 'Reflectometry with polarized neutrons is a perfect method to study thin magnetic films,' Lauter said. 'These thin films - if you put one on a substrate, you see it just like a mirror. However, this mirror has a very complicated internal multilayer structure. The neutrons look inside this complicated structure and characterize each and every interface. Due to the depth sensitivity of the method, we measure the structural and magnetic properties of each layer with the resolution of 0.5 nm. The neutron scattering results found that inserting LiF as a barrier significantly improves the quality of the interface, increasing the injection of electrons from the magnetic layer through the organic semiconductor in the spin valve and enhancing the overall properties of the system. In related work the magnetic properties of the cobalt film and the permalloy Ni{sub 80}Fe{sub 20} were characterized. Cobalt in particular needed attention, as it cannot be grown epitaxially (i.e., deposited) on an organic semiconductor film. Cobalt becomes polycrystalline or amorphous, and this affects its magnetic properties. The data from the first experiment showed that the cobalt layer in the system 'did not have typical magnetic properties,' Lauter said. 'The results showed that the cobalt had low magnetization. To improve the efficiency, the cobalt magnetization should be much higher. So this experiment helped us to improve the growth conditions and to get a cobalt layer with better magnetic properties.' In a subsequent experiment the researchers increased the magnetization of the cobalt, and a follow-up paper is in progress.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [1]
  1. ORNL
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Spallation Neutron Source (SNS)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE
OSTI Identifier:
1049072
DOE Contract Number:  
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Journal Name:
Notiziario Neutroni E Luce di Sincrotrone
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 17; Journal Issue: 2; Journal ID: ISSN 1592-7822
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; COBALT; EFFICIENCY; ELECTRIC CONDUCTIVITY; ELECTRODES; ELECTRONS; LITHIUM FLUORIDES; MAGNETIC MATERIALS; MAGNETIC PROPERTIES; MAGNETISM; MAGNETIZATION; MECHANICAL PROPERTIES; NEUTRON SOURCES; NEUTRONS; ORGANIC POLYMERS; ORGANIC SEMICONDUCTORS; SEMICONDUCTOR MATERIALS; SPIN; SPIN ORIENTATION; THIN FILMS; VALVES

Citation Formats

Bardoel, Agatha A, Lauter, Valeria, and Szulczewski, Greg J. Magnetism reflectometer study shows LiF layers improve efficiency in spin valve devices. United States: N. p., 2012. Web.
Bardoel, Agatha A, Lauter, Valeria, & Szulczewski, Greg J. Magnetism reflectometer study shows LiF layers improve efficiency in spin valve devices. United States.
Bardoel, Agatha A, Lauter, Valeria, and Szulczewski, Greg J. 2012. "Magnetism reflectometer study shows LiF layers improve efficiency in spin valve devices". United States.
@article{osti_1049072,
title = {Magnetism reflectometer study shows LiF layers improve efficiency in spin valve devices},
author = {Bardoel, Agatha A and Lauter, Valeria and Szulczewski, Greg J},
abstractNote = {New, more efficient materials for spin valves - a device used in magnetic sensors, random access memories, and hard disk drives - may be on the way based on research using the magnetism reflectometer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Spin valve devices work by means of two or more conducting magnetic material layers that alternate their electrical resistance depending on the layers alignment. Giant magnetoresistance is a quantum mechanical effect first observed in thin film structures about 20 years ago. The effect is observed as a significant change in electrical resistance, depending on whether the magnetization of adjacent ferromagnetic layers is in a parallel or an antiparallel magnetic alignment. 'What we are doing here is developing new materials. The search for new materials suitable for injecting and transferring carriers with a preferential spin orientation is most important for the development of spintronics,' said Valeria Lauter, lead instrument scientist on the magnetism reflectometer at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS), who collaborated on the experiment. The researchers discovered that the conductivity of such materials is improved when an organic polymer semiconductor layer is placed between the magnetic materials. Organic semiconductors are now the material of choice for future spin valve devices because they preserve spin coherence over longer times and distances than conventional semiconductors. While research into spin valves has been ongoing, research into organic semiconductors is recent. Previous research has shown that a 'conductivity mismatch' exists in spin valve systems in which ferromagnetic metal electrodes interface with such organic semiconductors as Alq3 ({pi}-conjugated molecule tris(8-hydroxy-quinoline) aluminium). This mismatch limits the efficient injection of the electrons from the electrodes at the interface with the semiconductor material. However, lithium fluoride (LiF), commonly used in light-emitting diodes, has been found to enhance the injection of electrons through the semiconductor. Researchers from the University of Alabama and ORNL used polarized neutrons at the magnetism reflectometer at SNS to investigate the electronic, magnetic, and structural properties of the electrodes in a novel system. In this system, the magnetic layers cobalt and Ni{sub 80}Fe{sub 20} are interfaced with spacer layers composed of the organic semiconductor Alq3. A coupling layer of LiF is inserted to separate the magnetized layers from the semiconductor. 'ALQ3 is an organic semiconductor material,' said Lauter. 'Normally in these systems a first magnetic layer is grown on a hard substrate so that one can get the controlled magnetic parameters. Then you grow the organic semiconductor layer, followed by another magnetic material layer, such as cobalt.' In addition to determining the effect of the LiF layers on the efficiency of the electron injection, the researchers wanted to determine the magnetic properties of the cobalt and Ni{sub 80}Fe{sub 20} as well as the interfacial properties: whether there is interdiffusion of cobalt through the LiF layer to the semiconductor, for example. The researchers used polarized neutrons at beam line 4A to probe the entire, layer-by-layer assembly of the system. 'Reflectometry with polarized neutrons is a perfect method to study thin magnetic films,' Lauter said. 'These thin films - if you put one on a substrate, you see it just like a mirror. However, this mirror has a very complicated internal multilayer structure. The neutrons look inside this complicated structure and characterize each and every interface. Due to the depth sensitivity of the method, we measure the structural and magnetic properties of each layer with the resolution of 0.5 nm. The neutron scattering results found that inserting LiF as a barrier significantly improves the quality of the interface, increasing the injection of electrons from the magnetic layer through the organic semiconductor in the spin valve and enhancing the overall properties of the system. In related work the magnetic properties of the cobalt film and the permalloy Ni{sub 80}Fe{sub 20} were characterized. Cobalt in particular needed attention, as it cannot be grown epitaxially (i.e., deposited) on an organic semiconductor film. Cobalt becomes polycrystalline or amorphous, and this affects its magnetic properties. The data from the first experiment showed that the cobalt layer in the system 'did not have typical magnetic properties,' Lauter said. 'The results showed that the cobalt had low magnetization. To improve the efficiency, the cobalt magnetization should be much higher. So this experiment helped us to improve the growth conditions and to get a cobalt layer with better magnetic properties.' In a subsequent experiment the researchers increased the magnetization of the cobalt, and a follow-up paper is in progress.},
doi = {},
url = {https://www.osti.gov/biblio/1049072}, journal = {Notiziario Neutroni E Luce di Sincrotrone},
issn = {1592-7822},
number = 2,
volume = 17,
place = {United States},
year = {2012},
month = {1}
}