Etch-stop technique for patterning of tunnel junctions for a magnetic field sensor
2011 (English)In: Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, ISSN 0960-1317, E-ISSN 1361-6439, Vol. 21, no 4, 045014-045022 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Spin-dependent tunnelling devices, e. g. magnetic random access memories and highly sensitive tunnelling magnetoresistance (TMR) sensors, often consist of a large number of magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) of uniform quality over the whole device. The uniformity and yield of the fabrication of such a device are therefore very important. A major source of yield loss is the short-circuiting of junctions by redeposition of etch residues. This can be prevented by terminating of the etch in the typically 1 nm thick tunnelling barrier. Here, electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis for monitoring the etching semi-continuously is proposed. The fabrication scheme employs Ar ion milling for etching the MTJs, and photoelectron spectroscopy for analysing the composition of the etched surface in situ. Junctions etched either to or through the barrier were used for this. The quality of the etch stop was investigated using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and it was confirmed that the etch could be stopped in the MgO barrier. The TEM imaging also showed clear signs of redeposition. Such redeposition was attributed to being partly caused by the reduction of the TMR ratio of the junctions etched through the barrier, which was only 15% as compared with 150% for junctions etched to the barrier. Also, the latter junctions exhibited 2.7 times less noise in the low-frequency regime, resulting in a 27 times improvement of the signal-to-noise ratio with the etch stop. The barrier also proved effective in protecting the bottom contact from oxidation during the capping and contacting of the junctions.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. 21, no 4, 045014-045022 p.
Engineering and Technology
Research subject Engineering Science with specialization in Microsystems Technology
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-151972DOI: 10.1088/0960-1317/21/4/045014ISI: 000288751400016OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-151972DiVA: diva2:412607