The realization of the MeRAM is based on the voltage control of the interfacial magnetocrystalline anisotropy (MCA) of heavy-metal/ferromagnet/insulator (HM/FM/I) nanojunctions, where the non-magnetic HM contact electrode (Ta, Pd, Pt, Au) has strong spin-orbit coupling (SOC). Employing ab initio electronic structure calculations we have investigated the effect of electric-field (E-field) and epitaxial strain on the MCA of Ta/FeCo/MgO heterostructure. We predict that uniaxial strain leads to a wide range of interesting voltage behavior of the MCA ranging from linear behavior with positive or negative magnetoelectronic coefficient, to non-monotonic ⋁-shape or inverse-⋀-shape E-field dependence with asymmetric magnetoelectronic coefficients. The calculations reveal that under a 4% compressive strain on MgO reaches the giant value of ~ 1126 fJ/(V.m). The underlying mechanism is the synergistic effects of strain and E-field on the orbital characters, the energy level shifts of the SOC d-states, and the dielectric constant of MgO. These results demonstrate for the first time the feasibility of highly sensitive E-field-controlled MCA through strain engineering, which in turn open a viable pathway towards tailoring magnetoelectric properties for spintronic applications.
This research was supported by NSF Grant No. ERC-TANMS-1160504
Nicholas Kioussis, "Giant voltage controlled magnetic anisotropy in heavy metal/ferromagnet/insulator junctions
(Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 9931, Spintronics IX, 99312J (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 30, 2016; Published: 4 November 2016); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2239980.5167075292001.
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