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139 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,p.

139-148(J anuary 2006)
TMR Film and Head Technologies
V Kazuo Kobayashi V Hi deyuki Aki moto
(Manuscript received October 26, 2005)
We have developed Al-O barrier magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) and obtained a
magneto-resistance (MR) ratio of 27% with a resistance-area product RA of about
3 Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµm
2
. We have also studied Ti-O and Mg-O as new low barrier energy materials for
MTJs. Ti-O barrier MTJs showed a very small RA of less than 2 Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµm
2
. We can obtain
a high MR ratio of about 100% for Mg-O barrier MTJs with an RA of 2 to 3 Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµm
2
using a
CoFeB magnetic layer for the pinned and free layers. The coercivity of the free layer
can be reduced using a Co
74
Fe
26
/NiFe free layer, which is suitable for head applica-
tions. An MR ratio of 40 to 50% was obtained with an RA of 2 to 3 Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµm
2
. Mg-O barrier
MTJs are the most promising for future TMR heads for recording densities over
200 Gbit/in
2
. We fabricated Al-O barrier TMR heads whose target areal recording den-
sity is around 100 Gbit/in
2
. These heads have a 25% MR ratio with an RA of 4 Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµ Ωµm
2
,
and the width and height of the TMR head element are 110 nm and 100 nm, respective-
ly. We can obtain an average output signal of about 5000 µ µµ µµVpp at a 150 mV bias
voltage (V
b
) using a synthetic ferrimagnetic medium. We have also investigated the
characteristics of head noise and found that thermal magnetic noise is the dominant
noise in our TMR heads. We also investigated the thermal magnetic noise as a func-
tion of the exchange coupling field H
ex
between the pinned and antiferromagnetic
layers of TMR heads by using micromagnetic simulations. We clarified the impor-
tance of increasing not only the MR ratio but also H
ex
to realize ultra high density
magnetic recording.
1. Introduction
The tunnel magnetoresi sti ve (TMR) head has
been consi dered a promi si ng candi date as a post
spi n-val ve head due to i ts hi gh magneto-resi stance
(MR) r ati o and cur r ent per pendi cul ar to pl ane
(CPP) geometry. The spi n-val ve head wi th a cur-
rent i n pl ane (CI P) geometry i s expected to reach
i ts l i mi tati on i n MR rati o and al so have several
other i ssues, for exampl e, i ts i nsul ator l ayer
shoul d be thi n due to the narrow shi el d-to-shi el d
spaci ng. The spi n-val ve head wi th a CPP geome-
try (CPP-GMR head) enabl es the shi el d-to-shi el d
spaci ng to be reduced bel ow that possi bl e i n the
CI P-GMR head, but i ts MR rati o i s onl y several
percent and i ts i mpedance i s qui te l ow. There-
fore, the output vol tage of the CPP-GMR head i s
expected to be l ow.
We have devel oped magneti c tunnel juncti ons
(MTJs) from the earl y stage of research.
1)-5)
MTJs
ar e basi cal l y composed of a fer r omagneti c fr ee
l ayer, i nsul ator l ayer, and ferromagneti c pi nned
l ayer (Figure 1), and thei r MR rati os are gi ven
by 2P
1
P
2
/(1-P
1
P
2
) after Jul i ere,
6)
where P
1
and P
2
are the pol ari zati ons of the ferromagneti c l ayers.
P for Ni , Co, and Fe i s 0.23, 0.3, and 0.4, respec-
ti vel y. I f we coul d obtai n a ferromagneti c materi al
whose P equal s 1, we coul d theoreti cal l y obtai n
an i nfi ni te MR rati o. MTJs usual l y show a hi gh
resi stance-area product (RA) i n spi te of thei r l arge
MR rati o because they have an i nsul ati ng barri er
l ayer. Even i f we obtai ned an RA of 3 Ωµm
2
, the
r esi stance of a 0.1 µm
2
MTJ el ement woul d be
140 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
300 Ω. Because the resi stance and stray capaci -
tance for m a l ow-pass fi l ter, a hi gh-r esi stance
el ement woul d not pass a hi gh data-rate (frequen-
cy) si gnal . Therefore, the most i mportant thi ng
for the TMR head i s how to reduce i ts RA. Many
efforts have been made to reduce RA. Oxi di za-
ti on of the barri er l ayer shoul d be opti mi zed by
usi ng a thi nner Al barri er l ayer that i s deposi ted
on a fl at el ectri cal l ead surface. Fi l m fl atness i s a
very i mportant factor for obtai ni ng a l ower resi s-
tance MTJ and avoi di ng el ectri cal shorti ng. A l ow
barri er energy materi al for the i nsul ator l ayer i s
al so effecti ve for r educi ng RA. Many bar r i er
materi al s have al so been i nvesti gated.
Al though Al -O bar r i er MTJs have been
devel oped from the earl y stage of the research,
new barri er materi al s such as Ti -O and Mg-O have
recentl y been di scovered to be sui tabl e for l ow-
resi stance TMR heads. I n thi s paper, we report
the el ectri cal characteri sti cs of these MTJs. We
then report the read-wri te performance and noi se
characteri sti cs of Al -O barri er TMR heads that we
fabri cated for areal densi ti es around 100 Gbi t/i n
2
.
Lastl y, we report the resul ts of a 3-di mensi onal
mi cromagneti c si mul ati on for thermal magneti c
noi se i n TMR heads, whi ch has become the mai n
noi se sour ce now that the wi dth and hei ght of
sensor s for densi ti es ar ound 100 Gbi t/i n
2
have
decreased to nearl y 100 nm.
2. Magnetic tunnel junction
2.1 Brief history
We have been contri buti ng to MTJ research
si nce the di scovery that MTJs have a l arge MR
r ati o (18%) at r oom temper atur e.
1),2)
We fi r st
showed that MTJs wi th an anti ferromagneti c pi n-
ni ng l ayer exhi bi t spi n-val ve-l i ke pr oper ti es
(Fi gur e 1).
3)
We al so found that an MTJ’s MR
r ati o can be i ncr eased to 24% by anneal i ng
(Figures 2 and 3).
4)
Furthermore, the hi ghest MR
rati o we have obtai ned so far i s 42%, whi ch was
obtai ned wi th a Co74Fe26 composi ti on (Figure 4).
5)
Figure 5 shows the r el ati on between MR
rati os and resi stance-area product RA that vari -
ous r esear cher s have r epor ted over the l ast 10
years for Al -O barri er MTJs. Surpri si ngl y, RA has
been reduced by about ei ght orders of magni tude
over thi s peri od.
2.2 Fabrication
We fabri cated MTJs on surface-oxi di zed Si
wafer s or par ti al l y Ni Fe-pl ated and chemi cal -
mechani cal -pol i shed (CMP) Al
2
O
3
⋅ Ti C substrates
by DC magnetron sputteri ng. Figure 6 shows
the structure of these MTJs. A PtMn anti ferro-
magneti c l ayer and CoFe/Ru/CoFe syntheti c
ferri magneti c l ayer were used for the pi nni ng and
pi nned l ayers, respecti vel y. The barri er l ayer was
deposi ted i n a wedge shape to obtai n the barri er
thi ckness dependency usi ng a si ngl e wafer. The
pi n anneal was performed i n a vacuum at 260°C
for 4 hours wi th a magneti c fi el d of 1.11 × 10
6
A/m
0.0
740
2.0
4.0
6.0
8.0
10.0
12.0
760
780
800
820
-100 -50 0 50 100
H (Oe)
Hc=2.5 Oe
Ferromagnet
Insulator
Ferromagnet
Antiferromagnet
M2 or
M1
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
R

(

)
(a) Structure
(b) R-H curve
Figure 1
Spin-valve-like property of magnetic tunnel junction (MTJ).
141 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
Figure 2
Annealing temperature dependence of tunnel magnetoresistance (TMR) for different samples in the wafer.
(a) Dependence of magneto resistance (MR) ratio on annealing temperature. (b) Dependence of tunnel resis-
tance-area product RA on annealing temperature. Symbols in Figure (a) correspond to symbols in Figure (b).
10
0
20
30
40
50
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
Fe content (at.%)
Annealed
As deposited
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
Figure 4
Dependence of MR ratio on CoFe composition in NiFe
(24 nm)/Co
1-x
Fe
x
(10 nm)/Al-O(1.6 nm)/Co
1-x
Fe
x
(10 nm)/
IrMn(15 nm) junctions.
20
10
0
30
40
50
60
Head 
target
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
10
0
10
-1
10
1
10
2
10
3
10
4
10
5
10
6
10
7
10
8
RA (Ωµm
2
)
Hitachi
TDK
NEC
IBM
Fujitsu
Toshiba
Motorola
Seagate
Tohoku U.
INESC
Figure 5
Relationship between MR ratios and resistance-area
product RA in MTJs.
5
10
15
20
0
0 100 200 300 400
Annealing temperature (°C)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
10
8
10
7
10
6
10
5
0 100 200 300 400
Annealing temperature (°C)
R
A

(

µ
m
2
)
(a) (b)
0
128
5
10
15
20
25
136
144
152
-100 -50 0 50 100
H (Oe)
250 µm×250 µm
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
R

(

)
Figure 3
MR curve of MTJ after annealing at 300°C for 1 hour.
Figure 6
Film structure of MTJ with wedge-shaped barrier layer.
Seed layer
CoFe
Barrier
CoFe
NiFe
Ta
Ru
CoFe
Ta
Substrate
PtMn
142 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
(14 000 Oe). The MTJs were patterned usi ng con-
venti onal photol i thogr aphy, i on-mi l l i ng, and
l i ft-off. The el ectri cal properti es were measured
at r oom temper atur e under a fi el d of 7.96 ×
10
3
A/m (100 Oe) usi ng the four-probe method.
2.3 MR property
Fi rst, we present some typi cal characteri s-
ti cs of the l ow-resi stance Al -O barri er MTJs we
devel oped. Figure 7 shows the RA dependence
on MR rati o of Al -O barri er MTJs on Al
2
O
3
⋅ Ti C
substrates for three di fferent oxi di zati on ti mes.
The Al was oxi di zed by natural oxi di zati on. The
fi l m structure of the MTJs i s Ta/PtMn/Co
89
Fe
11
/
Ru/Co
74
Fe
26
/Al (0.55w. & oxi d.) /Co
74
Fe
26
(1.5)/
Ni Fe(3)/Ta. The number s i n par entheses show
the thi ckness i n nm, and “0.55w. & oxi d.” i n thi s
exampl e i s the mean thi ckness of a 0.55 nm Al
wedge and successi ve oxi dati on after deposi ti on.
A good MR rati o of 27% at an RA of about 3 Ωµm
2
was obtai ned. The r ead/wr i te per for mance of
Al -O barri er TMR heads i s descri bed i n the next
secti on.
We al so studi ed Ti O barri er MTJs. Figure 8
shows the RA dependence on MR r ati o of Ti O
barri er MTJs on Al
2
O
3
⋅ Ti C substrates for three
di fferent oxi di zati on ti mes. The Ti was oxi di zed
by r adi cal oxi di zati on i n thi s case. The fi l m
structure of these MTJs i s Ta/PtMn/Co
74
Fe
26
/Ru/
Co
74
Fe
26
/Ti (0.45w. & oxi d.) /Co
74
Fe
26
(1)/Ni Fe(3)/Ta.
Ti O barri er MTJs have a very l ow RA because of
thei r l ow barri er hei ght. Figure 9 shows a typi -
cal R-V curve and the bi as dependency of the MR
rati o of a Ti O barri er MTJ. We can obtai n a bar-
ri er hei ght that i s 0.1 eV l ower than the 0.5 eV
hei ght of Al -O barri er MTJs by fi tti ng the barri er
hei ght and wi dth wi th Si mmons’ equati on of tun-
nel i ng.
7)
V
1/2
i s defi ned where the TMR decreases
to hal f i ts zero bi as val ue. V
1/2
i s about 200 mV,
whi ch i s al so smal l er than the 450 mV val ue of
Al -O barri er MTJs.
MgO bar r i er MTJs wi th CoFeB magneti c
l ayers were di scovered to show a hi gh MR rati o of
over 200%.
8)-10)
Figure 10 shows the RA depen-
dence on the MR rati o of MgO barri er MTJs on Si
substrates. The MgO was deposi ted by RF spat-
5
0
15
10
20
25
30
2 1 3 4 5 6 7 8
RA (Ω µm
2
)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
Oxi 900 sec
Oxi 600 sec
Oxi 300 sec
Figure 7
Dependence of MR ratio on resistance-area product RA
in Al-O barrier MTJs with different natural oxidization times.
5
0
10
15
20
0.5 0 1 1.5 2 2.5
Radical 50 s
Radical 45 s
Radical 40 s
RA (Ω µm
2
)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
Figure 8
Dependence of MR ratio on resistance-area product RA
in Ti-O barrier MTJs with different radical oxidization times.
0.5
0
1
1.5
5
0
10
15
2 20
-200 -300 -100 0 100 200 300
V (mV)
R
A

(

µ
m
2
)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
Estimated barrier properties 
Width: 0.89 nm 
Height: 0.1 eV
Figure 9
Dependence of RA and MR ratio on bias in Ti-O barrier
MTJ.
143 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
teri ng i n thi s case. The fi l m structure of these
MTJs i s Ta/PtMn/Co
74
Fe
26
/Ru/CoFeB(3)/MgO
(1.5w.)/CoFeB(3)/Ta. The MTJs were anneal ed i n
a vacuum at 350°C after the deposi ti on. An MR
r ati o of 200% was obtai ned wi th an RA
exceedi ng 1 kΩµm
2
. Figure 11 shows the
MR rati o dependence on the bi as. A hi gh V
1/2
of
600 mV was obtai ned.
RA can be decreased by decreasi ng the thi ck-
ness of MgO. Figure 12 shows the RA dependence
on the MR rati o of MgO barri er MTJs on Al
2
O
3

Ti C substrates, i n whi ch the mean thi ckness of
the MgO wedge i s 1.0 nm. An MR rati o of 100%
was obtai ned wi th an RA of 2 Ωµm
2
.
Al though MTJs wi th a CoFeB magneti c l ayer
for the pi nned and free l ayers showed a hi gh MR
rati o, thei r coerci vi ty Hc i s around 1.99 × 10
3
A/m
(25 Oe) whi ch i s qui te hi gh for head appl i cati ons.
We therefore used a composi te fi l m of Co
74
Fe
26
/
Ni Fe i nstead of CoFeB fi l m for the free l ayer. Thi s
decreased the MR rati os to about hal f the val ue of
the CoFeB free-l ayer MTJs but al so decreased Hc
to l ess than 3.98 × 10
2
A/m (5 Oe). Figure 13
shows the RA dependence on the MR rati o of MgO
barri er MTJs on Al
2
O
3
⋅ Ti C substrates wi th an
MgO thi ckness of 0.97, 1.00, and 1.03 nm, respec-
ti vel y. The fi l m str uctur e of these MTJs i s
Ta/PtMn/Co
74
Fe
26
/Ru/CoFeB/MgO/Co
74
Fe
26
(1.5)/
Ni Fe(3)/Ta. An MR rati o of around 40% was ob-
tai ned wi th an RA of 2 Ωµm
2
. These MTJs are
very promi si ng for use i n future HDD read heads.
3. TMR heads with Al-O barrier
We fabr i cated fi r st-gener ati on pr ototype
TMR heads whose target areal recordi ng densi ty
i s ar ound 100 Gbi t/i n
2
. We focused on Al -O
bar r i er TMR heads and fabr i cated them usi ng
0
20
60
40
100
80
120
140
160
180
-500 -1000 0 500 1000
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
V (mV)
Figure 11
Dependence of MR ratio on bias in MgO barrier MTJ.
50
0
100
150
200
250
1 0.1 10 100
RA (Ωµm
2
)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
MgO wedge 1.0 nm
Figure 12
Dependence of MR ratio on resistance-area product RA
in MgO barrier MTJs.
50
0
100
150
200
250
10 1 100 1000 10 000
RA (Ωµm
2
)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
MgO wedge 1.5 nm
Figure 10
Dependence of MR ratio on resistance-area product RA
in MgO barrier MTJs.
144 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
conventi onal photol i thogr aphy, successi ve i on
mi l l i ng, and l i ft-off. The TMR head stack i s made
of Ta/PdPtMn/CoFe/Ru/CoFe/Al & oxi d. /CoFe/
Ni Fe/Ta and stabi l i zed by a permanent-magnet
(CoCrPt) abutted juncti on. The TMR fi l m for the
prototype heads has an RA of 4 Ωµm
2
and an MR
rati o of 25%. Figure 14 shows a TEM i mage of
the ai r-beari ng surface of one of these TMRs. The
wi dth and hei ght of the TMR el ement are 110 nm
and 100 nm, respecti vel y. The read wri te mea-
surement was performed at a 150 mV bi as vol tage
(V
b
). The aver age output si gnal i s ar ound
5000 µVpp from a syntheti c ferri magneti c medi -
um havi ng a remanence-thi ckness product B
r
δ of
3.7 Tnm (37 Gµm). Thi s output si gnal i s four ti mes
l arger than that of a conventi onal spi n-val ve CI P-
GMR head. The magneti c read track wi dth Twr
i s about 120 nm. The output si gnal vol tage i s
suffi ci entl y hi gh, and Twr i s suffi ci entl y narrow
to achi eve a 100 Gbi t/i n
2
recordi ng densi ty.
We al so i nvesti gated the char acter i sti cs of
head noi se. I ts vol tage spectr um i s shown i n
Figure 15. The noi se vol tage obtai ned by i nte-
gr ati ng the noi se vol tage spectr um i s typi cal l y
around 180 µVrms.
On the other hand, the head noi se source of
the TMR head i s thought to be composed of
Johnson noi se, shot noi se, and thermal magneti c
noi se. The Johnson pl us shot noi se can be cal cu-
l ated by the fol l owi ng equati on accor di ng to
Kl aassen, Xi ng, and Peppen:
11)
where e i s the el ementary el ectri c charge, k
B
i s
Bol tzmann’s constant, T i s the absol ute tempera-
ture, and R i s the head resi stance at zero el ectri cal
bi as. Usi ng thi s equati on, the esti mated Johnson
pl us shot noi se vol tage of thi s TMR head i s
64 µVrms when R = 360 Ω and ∆f = 230 MHz. We
esti mated that the thermal magneti c noi se of the
TMR head i s 170 µVrms ( = ) under
the assumpti on that the head noi se i s composed
of the three above-menti oned noi se sources. The
thermal magneti c noi se i s thought to come from
10
0
30
20
50
40
60
1 0 2 3 4 5
RA (Ωµm
2
)
M
R

r
a
t
i
o

(
%
)
1.03 nm
1.00 nm
MgO thickness: 0.97 nm
Figure 13
Dependence of MR ratio on resistance-area product RA
in MgO barrier MTJs.
Upper shield and lead
Lower shield and lead
Free layer
AI-O barrier layer
Permanent 
magnet
Antiferromagnetic layer Pinned layer
50 nm
}
Figure 14
TEM image of first-generation prototype TMR head.
N
J+shot
=
(1)
2⋅e⋅V
b
⋅R⋅∆f⋅coth ,
e⋅V
b
2⋅k
B
⋅T
N
head
2
– N
J+shot
2
-60
-50
-40
-30
0 50 100 150 200
N
o
i
s
e

a
m
p
l
i
t
u
d
e

(
d
B
m
)
Frequency (MHz)
TMR head noise 
V
b
=150 mV 
N
head
180 µVrms
Figure 15
Head noise amplitude spectrum of TMR head.
145 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
random magneti c rotati ons i n the TMR el ement
due to the i nfl uence of thermal energy. Needl ess
to say, the ther mal magneti c noi se gover ns the
head noi se. We di scuss the thermal noi se i n the
next secti on.
4. Study of thermal magnetic
noise by computer
simulations
As menti oned above, we ar e pr omoti ng
r esear ch and devel opment to i mpr ove the MR
rati o of MTJs from the materi al -search poi nt of
vi ew. Si mul taneousl y, we have al ready devel oped
fi rst-generati on TMR heads that can be used for
areal recordi ng densi ti es around 100 Gbi t/i n
2
. The
wi dth and hei ght of the sensors of current HDDs
for 100 Gbi t/i n
2
recordi ng have decreased to near-
l y 100 nm. I n order to further i ncrease the areal
recordi ng densi ty, i t i s necessary to downsi ze the
TMR head el ement. However, as the sensor i s
downsi zed, r andom magneti c r otati ons due to
thermal exci tati on i n the TMR heads i ncreases,
and thi s probl em i s bel i eved to set the l i mi t of areal
r ecor di ng densi ty.
12)-14)
Ther efor e, we have al so
been studyi ng the thermal magneti c noi se i n TMR
heads by usi ng mi cromagneti c si mul ati ons that
take the thermal fl uctuati on energy i nto consi d-
erati on. Thi s secti on descri bes the dependence of
thermal magneti c noi se on the exchange coupl i ng
fi el d H
ex
between the pi nned and anti ferromag-
neti c l ayers.
4.1 Simulation model
To study the thermal magneti c noi se of TMR
heads, we devel oped a 3-di mensi onal mi cromag-
neti c si mul ati on model by changi ng the current
di recti on of the GMR head cal cul ati on model .
14)
Figure 16 shows a mi cr omagneti c si mul ati on
model for TMR heads. We cal cul ated the mag-
neti c moti on i n 2-di mensi onal arrays of tetragonal
cel l s for each magneti c l ayer i n the TMR el ement
(i .e., the free and syntheti c ferri magneti c coupl ed
pi nned l ayers) usi ng the Landau Li fshi tz Gi l bert
(LLG) equati on:
where M
i
and H
i
.
eff
are, respecti vel y, the magneti -
zati on and effecti ve appl i ed fi el d of each cel l , and
H
i
.
eff
i ncl udes the ani sotr opy, magnetostati c
coupl i ng, exchange coupl i ng, and external fi el d.
To si mul ate ther mal magneti c noi se, we
i ntr oduced a r andom effecti ve ther mal fi el d
correspondi ng to the thermal fl uctuati on energy
i nto H
i
.
eff
of the LLG equati on. The di recti on of
the effecti ve thermal fi el d i s i sotropi cal l y random,
the magni tude di stri buti on i s Gaussi an wi th a zero
mean, and the di spersi on i s i nversel y proporti on-
al to the magneti c energy of each cel l :
12)-15)
where α (= 0.02) i s the dampi ng constant, γ (= 1.76
× 10
7
Hz/Oe) i s the gyromagneti c constant, and
M
S
and V
cel l
are the saturati on magneti zati on and
vol ume of each cel l , respecti vel y. The durati on of
the constant effecti ve thermal fl uctuati on fi el d ∆t
was chosen to be 10 ps.
The l ayer structure was anti ferromagneti c/
pi nned/Ru/reference/Al -O barri er/free. The wi dth
C
u
r
r
e
n
t
U
p
p
e
r
s
h
ie
ld
&
le
a
d
M
a
g
n
e
tic
tr
a
n
s
itio
n
P
M
L
o
w
e
r
s
h
ie
ld
&
le
a
d
F
r
e
e
la
y
e
r
R
e
fe
r
e
n
c
e
la
y
e
r
P
in
n
e
d
la
y
e
r
P
e
r
m
a
n
e
n
t m
a
g
n
e

(
P
M
)
 
 
M
e
d
i
u
m

m
o
v
e
m
e
n
t
 
d
i
r
e
c
t
i
o
n
Recording medium
y
x
z
Antiferromagnetic 
layer
Cell
Figure 16
Micromagnetic simulation model for TMR heads.
= M
i
× H
i
.
eff
– M
i
× (M
i
× H
i
.
eff
),
(2)
dM
i
dt
γ⋅α
M
s
γ
i = 1, 2, ⋅⋅⋅, N.
H
ther
= . (3)
2k
B
T α
α γ ∆ V
cell
M
S
(1+
2
) t
2
146 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
and hei ght of the free l ayer were assumed to be
120 and 110 nm, respecti vel y, and the shi el d-to-
shi el d gap was assumed to be 45 nm.
4.2 Simulation of thermal magnetic noise
in TMR heads
Figures 17 (a) and 17 (b) show the si mu-
l ated output si gnal s of TMR heads wi th H
ex
assumed to be 3.18 × 10
4
and 1.59 × 10
4
A/m (400
and 200 Oe). The fi gur es cl ear l y show that
reduci ng H
ex
to 1.59 × 10
4
A/m does not affect the
output si gnal . The two heads have a si mi l ar peak-
to-peak output vol tage and symmetri cal output
wavefor ms. I n contr ast, the ther mal magneti c
noi se of the TMR head wi th the l ower H
ex
has
l arge, i rregul ar, and asymmetri cal posi ti ve peaks
[Figure 17 (d)]. Figure 18 shows the dependence
of output si gnal and thermal magneti c noi se on
H
ex
. The output si gnal i s vi rtual l y constant, but
the ther mal magneti c noi se mor e than doubl es
when H
ex
i s decreased from 3.18 × 10
4
to 1.59 ×
10
4
A/m (400 and 200 Oe). Reduci ng H
ex
i ncreases
the ther mal magneti c noi se but onl y sl i ghtl y
affects the output si gnal . The resul ts presented
i n thi s paper i ndi cate that i t i s i mpor tant to
i ncr ease not onl y the MR r ati o but al so H
ex
to
r eal i ze the next gener ati on of TMR heads for
ul tra hi gh densi ty magneti c recordi ng. Therefore,
we have been l ooki ng for materi al s wi th a l arge
H
ex
.
Computer si mul ati on i s an effecti ve tool for
the type of head desi gn and anal ysi s descri bed
above. We have used si mul ati on for effi ci ent
devel opment of TMR heads and are convi nced i t
has enabl ed us to devel op hi gh-qual i ty TMR
heads.
(a) Output signal (c) Thermal magnetic noise
O
u
t
p
u
t

s
i
g
n
a
l

(
µ
V
)
0 0 50
through 500 MHz low-pass filter
100 150 200 250 300 -200 200 400 -400
2000 
1000 

-1000 
-2000 
-3000 
 
1500 
1000 
500 

-500 
-1000 
-1500
2000 
1000 

-1000 
-2000 
-3000 
 
Down-track position (nm) Elapsed time (ns)
V
pp
= 5480 µVpp 
Asym. = -3.4%
(b) Output signal
O
u
t
p
u
t

s
i
g
n
a
l

(
µ
V
)
0 -200 200 400 -400
Down-track position (nm)
V
pp
= 5360 µVpp 
Asym. = -2.8%
M
a
g
-
n
o
i
s
e

o
u
t
p
u
t

(
µ
V
)
H
ex
= 400 Oe, N
mag
= 156 µVrms
(d) Thermal magnetic noise
0 50 100 150 200 250 300
1500 
1000 
500 

-500 
-1000 
-1500
Elapsed time (ns)
M
a
g
-
n
o
i
s
e

o
u
t
p
u
t

(
µ
V
)
H
ex
= 200 Oe, N
mag
= 336 µVrms
Figure 17
Simulated output signal and thermal magnetic noise waveforms of TMR heads with different H
ex
.
147 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
5. Conclusion
We have devel oped Al -O barri er MTJs and
obtai ned an MR rati o of 27% wi th an RA of about
3 Ωµm
2
. We have devel oped fi rst-generati on Al -O
bar r i er TMR heads that can be used for ar eal
recordi ng densi ti es of about 100 Gbi t/i n
2
. These
heads showed a l arge output vol tage that was four
ti mes l arger than that of spi n-val ve CI P heads.
However, we found the thermal magneti c noi se i s
the domi nant noi se i n these heads, and i t wi l l be
the cri ti cal obstacl e to further i ncreases of areal
magneti c recordi ng densi ty. We al so i nvesti gated
the thermal magneti c noi se of TMR heads as a
functi on of H
ex
by usi ng mi cromagneti c si mul a-
ti ons. We cl ari fi ed the i mportance of i ncreasi ng
not onl y the MR r ati o but al so H
ex
to r eal i ze
ul tra hi gh densi ty magneti c recordi ng.
We have al so studi ed Ti -O and Mg-O as new
l ow barri er energy materi al s for MTJs. Ti -O bar-
r i er MTJs show a pecul i ar char acter i sti c: they
have a very smal l RA of l ess than 2 Ωµm
2
. We can
obtai n a hi gh MR rati o of about 40 to 50% for Mg-
O barri er MTJs wi th an RA of 2 to 3 Ωµm
2
by usi ng
a CoFeB pi nned l ayer and l ow-coerci vi ty Co
74
Fe
26
/
Ni Fe free l ayer. Not onl y are Mg-O barri er MTJs
the most promi si ng for future TMR heads for over
200 Gbi t/i n
2
recordi ng densi ti es, they al so coul d
be used for the r ead heads of hi gh-end ser ver
HDDs.
1000
0
4000
3000
2000
5000
6000
100
0
200
300
400
500
600
100 300 400 500 200
Exchange coupling field strength H
ex
(Oe)
I
s
o
l
a
t
e
d

o
u
t
p
u
t

s
i
g
n
a
l

(
µ
V
p
p
)
M
a
g
-
n
o
i
s
e

(
µ
V
r
m
s
)
Figure 18
Dependence of output signal and thermal magnetic noise
on H
ex
.
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148 FUJ ITSU Sci. Tech. J ., 42,1,(J anuary 2006)
K. Kobayashi et al.: TMR Film and Head Technologies
Hideyuki Akimoto received the B.E.
and M.E. degrees in Electronics
Engineering from Nihon University,
Tokyo, Japan in 1991 and 1993, respec-
tively. He joined Fujitsu Laboratories
Ltd., Atsugi, Japan in 1993, where he
was engaged in research and develop-
ment of magnetic recording media for
hard disk drives (HDDs). He was a
visiting researcher at the Center of
Micromagnetics and Information Tech-
nology, University of Minnesota, USA from 1995 to 1997. In
2002, he joined the Nagano Factory, Fujitsu Ltd., where he has
been engaged in the design and development of magnetic
recording heads for HDDs. He is a member of the Magnetic
Society of Japan and the Technical Committee of the R/W
Category, Storage Research Consortium.
E-mail: h.akimoto@jp.fujitsu.com
Kazuo Kobayashi received the B.S.,
M.E., and Dr.E. degrees in Applied
Physics from Tohoku University, Sendai,
Japan in 1968, 1970, and 1995, respec-
tively. He joined Fujitsu Laboratories
Ltd., Atsugi, Japan in 1970, where he
has been engaged in research of
materials and devices for magnetic
heads and media for hard disk drives.
In 2006, he joined the Nagano Factory,
Fujitsu Ltd. He is a member of the
Magnetics Society of Japan and the Applied Physical Society of
Japan. He is the chairperson of the Head & Disk Standard Com-
mittee of Japan IDEMA.
E-mail: kkoba@jp.fujitsu.com