Magnetoresistance of magnetic tunnel junctions in the presence of a nonmagnetic layer

Shufeng Zhang, P. M. Levy

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Abstract

We find that electron propagation across a uniform nonmagnetic metallic layer di in a magnetically layered structure is coherent up to a critical length dc. This provides a possible explanation for the slow decay of the magnetoresistance of magnetic tunnel junctions when a layer of Cu or Ag is inserted between the magnetic electrode and the barrier. However, for many (most) structures the roughness of the interfaces breaks the coherence for di ≪ dc. While the loss of coherence is not fatal for the magnetoresistance of metallic multilayers, it is for tunnel junctions. The quantum well states arising from the insertion of a nonmagnetic layer in a magnetic tunnel junction do not promote magnetoresistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5660-5663
Number of pages4
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Volume81
Issue number25
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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