Compared with current-controlled magnetization switching in a perpendicular magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ), electric field- or voltage-induced magnetization switching reduces the writing energy of the memory cell, which also results in increased memory density. In this work, an ultra-thin PZT film with high dielectric constant was integrated into the tunneling oxide layer to enhance the voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA) effect. The growth of MTJ stacks with an MgO/PZT/MgO tunnel barrier was performed using a combination of sputtering and atomic layer deposition techniques. The fabricated MTJs with the MgO/PZT/MgO barrier demonstrate a VCMA coefficient, which is ∼40% higher (19.8 ± 1.3 fJ/V m) than the control sample MTJs with an MgO barrier (14.3 ± 2.7 fJ/V m). The MTJs with the MgO/PZT/MgO barrier also possess a sizeable tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) of more than 50% at room temperature, comparable to the control MTJs with an MgO barrier. The TMR and enhanced VCMA effect demonstrated simultaneously in this work make the MgO/PZT/MgO barrier-based MTJs potential candidates for future voltage-controlled, ultralow-power, and high-density magnetic random access memory devices.
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