Voltage-controlled magnetic tunnel junctions with synthetic ferromagnet free layer sandwiched by asymmetric double MgO barriers

Cecile Grezes, Xiang Li, Kin L. Wong, Farbod Ebrahimi, Pedram Khalili Amiri, Kang L. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Memory and computing applications utilizing voltage-controlled magnetic random-access memory (MRAM) require perpendicular magnetic tunnel junctions (pMTJs) capable of high thermal stability and large write efficiency at advanced technology nodes. We first discuss the scaling requirements for voltage-controlled MRAM to replace various existing memory applications at an advanced CMOS technology node, including cell size, thermal stability, interfacial perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA), and voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA). For replacing volatile memories including SRAM, eDRAM, and DRAM, we employ the retention relaxation technique along with a DRAM-style refresh scheme in the analysis. To enhance both PMA and VCMA at scaled nodes, we explore pMTJs with asymmetric double MgO barriers sandwiching a synthetic ferromagnet (SyF) free layer. In a thin MgO/SyF free layer/thick MgO/fixed layer MTJ stack, the SyF free layer is realized in various ways: single layer (X = Ta, W, Mo, Ir) and bilayers (X = Ta/W, Mo/Ir) of heavy metals insertions in CoFeB/X/CoFeB and Co2FeAl/X/Co2FeAl structures, and multiple insertions in [CoFeB/X]n/CoFeB structures for n = 1-4. A VCMA coefficient of 36 fJ (V m)-1 is achieved in a MgO/CoFeB/Ta/CoFeB/MgO-based MTJ which is comparable to that of the single MgO barrier MTJ. We find PMA enhancement, although with VCMA reduction for an increasing number n of [CoFeB/X]n repetitions. In addition, we demonstrate large TMR of 78%, large interfacial PMA of 1.45 mJ m-2, and VCMA of 65 fJ (V m)-1 in a MgO/Co2FeAl/W/Co2FeAl/MgO-based MTJ annealed above 400 °C.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number014006
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • Heusler alloy
  • MRAM
  • VCMA
  • double MgO
  • retention relaxation
  • synthetic ferromagnet
  • voltage controlled magnetic anisotropy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


Dive into the research topics of 'Voltage-controlled magnetic tunnel junctions with synthetic ferromagnet free layer sandwiched by asymmetric double MgO barriers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this