Journal of Applied Physics

Microstructured magnetic tunnel junctions (invited)

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We have used a simple self-aligned process to fabricate magnetic tunnel junctions down to submicron sizes. Optical and electron-beam lithographies were used to cover a range of areas spanning five orders of magnitude. The bottom magnetic electrodes (Co or permalloy) in our junctions were exchange biased by an antiferromagnetic layer (MnFe). The top electrodes were made of soft magnetic materials (Co or permalloy). We have consistently obtained large magnetoresistance ratios (15%-22%) at room temperature and in fields of a few tens of Oe. The shape of the field response of the magnetoresistance was varied from smooth to highly hysteretic by adjusting the shape anisotropy of one junction electrode. © 1997 American Institute of Physics.