In order to recover the patterning damage and improve the electric and magnetic properties of the patterned magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs), the novel post-treatment process using oxygen ions has been studied. Generally, the oxygen is known as an unsuitable gas for the MTJs patterning because it causes degradation of the patterned MTJs by over-oxidation of MgO. By the way, if the damaged layer could be oxidized selectively without over-oxidation of the damage-less area, oxygen can be the most effective gas to recover the patterning damage of the MTJs. In this study, for the selective oxidation, we proposed the non-reactive oxygen treatment scheme called the oxygen showering post-treatment process (OSP) using an ozone diffusion chamber. By the specific OSP conditions, 8 l/min of the flow rate, 250 °C of the temperature, and 30 s of the time, the magneto-resistance (MR) was increased from 103% to 110%, and the switching current was decreased from 41.1 μA to 31.6 μA when compared with reference data at the same resistance level. These results show that the electric and magnetic properties of the patterned MTJs by the OSP treatment have been improved compared to the reference sample. The improvement in electric and magnetic properties by the OSP treatment is assumed because the reference sample already contains slight patterning damages at the edge of the MTJs despite the optimized patterning process, and these damages have been oxidized by the OSP treatment. Moreover, by the OSP treatment, the proportion of the electric short fail was dramatically decreased from 1.51% to 0%, which is a remarkable improvement in terms of a successful commercialization of spintronic devices.
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