Applied Physics Letters

Effects of annealing on the local structure of Fe and Co in CoFeB/MgO/CoFeB tunnel junctions: An extended x-ray-absorption fine structure study

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Extended x-ray-absorption fine structure (EXAFS) was used to study the evolution of the local structure of Fe and Co as a function of annealing time in CoFeB/MgO/CoFeB magnetic tunnel junctions. EXAFS indicates B depletion and crystallization of the CoFeB layers within a few seconds of the post growth high temperature anneal. The decrease in first-shell Debye-Waller factor and hence the increase in structural order during annealing explains the increase in tunnel magnetoresistance observed as a result of post deposition annealing. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.