Antiferromagnet (AFM)/ferromagnet (FM) systems such as IrMn/CoFeB/MgO enable spin-orbit-torque- (SOT-) induced switching of perpendicular magnetization in the absence of an external magnetic field. However, the low thermal stability, weak perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA), and indistinctive SOT of these AFM/FM heterostructures pose challenges to the practical application. Here, through the insertion of a thin W layer between the IrMn and CoFeB layers, we show that much larger effective PMA fields are obtained with annealing stability to 300 °C, which is guaranteed by the prevention of Mn diffusion via W insertion as shown in spherical aberration corrected transmission electron microscopy and atomic-resolution electron energy-loss spectroscopy measurement results. Furthermore, the spin-orbit torque is effectively tuned by changing the W layer thickness via modulation of the interfacial spin-orbit coupling at IrMn/W/CoFeB interfaces, which was reported to degrade the interface spin transparency for the spin currents. Finally, field-free magnetization switching was achieved with comparable exchange bias fields to samples without W insertion. This work demonstrates an effective strategy for improving the performance of the thermally robust AFM-based SOT device.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)