US 20070082230 A1
The spacer in a spin-valve is replaced with an organic layer, allowing for numerous applications, including light-emitting structures. The invention demonstrates that the spin coherence of the organic material is sufficiently long that the carriers do not lose their spin memory even in traversing a thicker passive barrier. At least three methods to fabricate the organic spin-valve devices are disclosed, in which the difficulties associated with depositing the ferromagnetic (FM) and organic layers are addressed.
1. A spin-valve device, comprising:
two ferromagnetic electrodes; and
an organic spacer layer between the two ferromagnetic electrodes.
2. The spin-valve device of
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This application claims priority from U.S. Provisional Patent Application Ser. No. 60/472,640, filed May 22, 2003, the entire content of which is incorporated herein by reference.
This invention relates generally to spin vales and, more particularly, to spin valves incorporating an organic spacer.
Spin-valves based on the effect of giant magnetoresistance and tunneling magnetoresistance are currently used in high-density magnetic recording heads and magnetoresistive random-access memories. This type of device is based on electrical resistance having two different values; say R1 and R2 that are dependent on an applied external magnetic field. When a magnetic head is in proximity to the spin-valve device it can change the resistance, or it can change voltage if an electric current runs through the device, between the two resistance values R1 and R2. The change in electrical resistance does not involve extra current or voltage; it just reacts to the external magnetic field. A spin-valve can be regarded as a switch, wherein the application of an external magnetic field does the switching.
A conventional vertical spin-valve device can be constructed using two thin ferromagnetic layers (each with a thickness of less than 100 nm) and a spacer in between, which can be a metallic or insulating thin layer (a few nm thick). When the magnetization orientation in the two adjacent ferromagnetic electrodes is parallel to each other, the electrical resistance measured perpendicular to the films has value R1; alternatively, when the two magnetization orientations of the two ferromagnetic films are anti-parallel to each other then the resistance is R2, which is different than R1. The magnetization of the electrodes can be arranged to be parallel or anti-parallel to each other by an external magnetic field. The resistance change under the influence of the magnetic field has been dubbed magnetoreistance or MR.
Broadly according to this invention, the spacer in a spin-valve is replaced with an organic layer. However, the thickness of the layer is not limited, allowing for numerous applications, including light-emitting structures. The invention demonstrates that the spin coherence of the organic material is sufficiently long that the carriers do not lose their spin memory even in traversing a thicker passive barrier. At least three methods to fabricate the organic spin-valve devices are disclosed, in which the difficulties associated with depositing the ferromagnetic (FM) and organic layers are addressed.
The Advantages of organic spin-valves over existing inorganic spin-valves are many. First, they are less expensive and easier to fabricate than their inorganic counterparts. There are also many more choices for the materials that make up the organic spacer. As examples, an intermediate layer may be chosen that emits light, changes its electrical properties upon illumination, can be doped in situ, and is sensitive to environmental physical and chemical properties such as humidity, oxygen level, and other environmental factors.
Similar spin-valve devices can be realized in planar geometry, in which FM1 and FM2 electrodes may be the same material but need to have different widths in order to control the magnetization switching in each electrode independently. According to this embodiment, we fabricated a vertical device based on two different FM electrodes. In addition, we have also fabricated the spin-valve device and demonstrated its switching capability upon the application of an external magnetic field.
In the vertical organic spin-valve devices, the ferromagnetic layers are typically high-melting temperature material, whereas the organic semiconducting layer has typically low melting temperature. Accordingly, during the FM electrode deposition process, the deposition temperature needs to be much lower than the melting point of the organic materials if the organic materials have been already deposited. Higher temperatures may evaporate the organic film away or cause intermixing between the organic and FM materials that would deteriorate their internal magnetization. As a result the intermixing at the FM/organic interfaces may destroy the magnetoresistance.
In addition, the metallic ferromagnetic electrodes typically oxidize very fast in air. The oxidized interfaces are detrimental to magnetoresistance in the final devices. So it is advantageous to fabricate the metallic electrodes together with the organic semiconductors in vacuum. Sputtering (a common deposition technique) is not preferred for the metallic electrode deposition if the organic layer is already deposited because the plasma is detrimental to the organic semiconductors. Thus, the film deposition is preferably carried out in vacuum at low temperatures. For some spin-injecting electrodes such as the ferromagnetic oxides (e.g. LSMO), in-situ deposition is not required in fabricating the organic spin-valve since they do not react with O2 in air. They can be predeposited, cleaned and then introduced into the vacuum chamber prior to the organic and the second electrode deposition.
In the following we describe various alternative fabrication methods for the organic spin-valve.
In this method the first layer, FM1 is a predeposited ferromagnetic electrode that is not air sensitive, the organic layer is deposited on FM1 by thermal evaporation at a relatively low temperature, whereas the deposition of the second ferromagnetic layer, FM2 is done by thermal evaporation with cooled substrates and/or with a cooled region near the evaporation source so that the excess heat can be taken away. This ensures that the vacuum chamber is at a sufficiently low temperature that the deposited organic layer will not evaporate away or intermix with FM2 at the interface. The thermal evaporation of FM2 can be replaced with electron-beam evaporation, which typically produces less heat if the evaporation is from a focused spot.
A second method can be independently used or used together with the first method. The main idea is to deposit a very thin FM2 layer (thickness of the order of few nm) onto the organic layer so that the high deposition temperature will be needed for a relatively short time. We note that a very thin layer (˜1 nm or so) of ferromagnetic material is already adequate to establish its ferromagnetism at the interface in order to produce the magnetoreistance. Since a very thin FM2 layer is deposited then if one starts with relatively thick organic layer, some of it would evaporate away during the FM2 layer deposition, but some would remain deposited on the first predeposited FM1 layer. To ensure the device electrical connection and to protect the relatively thin FM2 layer, a low melting temperature metal (e.g. Al, Au) is evaporated on top of FM2.
For demonstrating the organic spin valve we have used the second method. The predeposited FM1 layer was a LSMO ferromagnetic film. We deposited 120 nm thick film of the π-conjugated organic molecule AlQ3 (purchased from Aldrich), and FM2 layer was a 3.5 nm thick of cobalt. A protective layer of aluminum was then deposited onto FM2. The magnetization properties of the ferromagnetic layers FM1 and FM2 were separately measured by magneto-optical technique (MOKE) and the temperature dependence of the magnetization and coercive magnetic field was recorded.
We refer to the third method as a flip/bond method. It can be used independently or together with the above two methods. This method works with either metallic or other ferromagnetic electrodes as FM1 and FM2 layers. Both FM1 and FM2 electrodes are deposited first following by an organic layer deposition in vacuum. Then the electrodes that are already covered with the organic can be taken out of the vacuum chamber. One electrode can be flipped with its organic overlayer facing the other electrode with its own organic overlayer. Then the two organic layers are brought together. The electrodes can be aligned and then bonded by heating up to a relatively low temperature to promote adhesion. This methods ensures low temperature deposition and no intermixing at the metal/organic interfaces
The organic vertical spin valve is composed of at least three layers; two ferromagnetic layers and an organic semiconductor layer. Here we mention various possible materials that can be used for this device.
1. Ferromagnetic Layers
These may be metallic, half metallic or magnetic semiconductors. Metallic ferromagnetic may be iron, cobalt, nickel and their composites. The half metallic can be manganites and other magnetic oxides.
2. Organic Semiconductors (π-conjugated) These can be polymers such as polythiophenes, polyparaphenylenes, polyparaphenylenevynylenes, and polyfluorenes and their block co-polymers. Also they can be small oligomers of the above such as 4-thiophene, 6-thiophen, etc, or 3-PPV, such as distyryl benzene, etc. Also they can be small molecules such as porphyrines, AlQ3, PBD, dendrimers, etc.
In summary, we have fabricated and demonstrated an organic spin-valve device. In addition, we have also successfully shown that carriers (electron and/or holes) with aligned spins can be injected into and transported coherently through π-conjugated organic semiconductor films. This opens up a new field with opportunities to add new functionalities to the existing spin-devices or develop entirely new devices.
(a) The resistance of the organic spin-valves can be tuned. This may be carried out by engineering the HOMO-LUMO levels of the organic semiconductors relative to the ferromagnetic electrode materials. This can have a great impact in magnetic recording and magnetoresistive random access memory technologies.
(b) Since it has been discovered that the organic semiconductors generally have a long spin diffusion length, the organic spacer in the spin-valves can be made relatively thick. This can make the fabrication process much more reproducible and reliable in magnetic read heads and magnetoresistive random-access memory.
(c) The organic layer is a semiconductor; therefore, the conventional spin-valves can be made active with very interesting possibilities.