We report the free layer switching field distributions of spin-valve nanopillars with perpendicular magnetization. While the distributions are consistent with a thermal activation model, they show a strong asymmetry between the parallel to antiparallel and the reverse transition, with energy barriers more than 50 higher for the parallel to antiparallel transitions. The inhomogeneous dipolar field from the polarizer is demonstrated to be at the origin of this symmetry breaking. Interestingly, the symmetry is restored for devices with a lithographically defined notch pair removed from the midpoint of the pillar cross-section along the ellipse long axis. These results have important implications for the thermal stability of perpendicular magnetized magnetic random access memory bit cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)