The effect of undesirable high-frequency free-layer switching in magnetic multilayer systems, referred to as back-hopping, is investigated by means of the spin-diffusion model. A possible origin of the back-hopping effect is found to be the destabilization of the pinned layer, which leads to the perpetual switching of both layers. While the presented mechanism is not claimed to be the only possible reason for back-hopping, we show that it is a fundamental effect that will occur in any spin-transfer-torque device when exceeding a critical current. The influence of different material parameters on the critical switching currents for the free and pinned layer is obtained by micromagnetic simulations. The spin-diffusion model enables an accurate description of the torque on both layers, depending on various material parameters. It is found that the choice of a free-layer material with low polarization β and saturation magnetization Ms and a pinned-layer material with high β and Ms leads to a low free-layer critical current and a high pinned-layer critical current and hence reduces the likelihood of back-hopping. While back-hopping has been observed in various types of devices, there are only a few experiments that exhibit this effect in perpendicularly magnetized systems. However, our simulations suggest that the described effect will also gain importance in perpendicular systems due to the loss of pinned-layer anisotropy for decreasing device sizes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)