In order to clarify the effect of oxygen in the sputtering atmosphere on the microstructure and giant magnetoresistance, Co/Cu multilayers were fabricated under a sputtering atmosphere into which regulated impurity oxygen gas was introduced. After being pumped down the sputtering chamber to the ultimate pressure (less than 1 × 10-10 Torr), oxygen was introduced into the chamber until its content in processing Ar gas was about 0.1 ppm to 0.1%. The magnetoresistance (MR) ratio drastically increased from less than 20% to 54% when the content of impurity oxygen was slightly increased from 20 to 80 ppm, then nearly vanished when the content became more than 200 ppm. In the former region where the MR ratio steeply increased, the root mean square roughness of the multilayers decreased from 6.5 to 4.5 Å accompanied by a reduction in grain size as the oxygen content was increased. The partial oxidation of the multilayers is the most probable mechanism by which the flattening of the interfaces in the multilayer can be explained. We conclude that the impurity oxygen in the sputtering atmosphere serves as an obstruction of grain growth in the multilayer, not as a surfactant for the film growth.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy(all)