Applied Physics Letters

Spin-transfer pulse switching: From the dynamic to the thermally activated regime

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The effect of thermal fluctuations on spin-transfer switching has been studied for a broad range of time scales (subnanoseconds to seconds) in a model system, a uniaxial thin film nanomagnet. The nanomagnet is incorporated into a spin-valve nanopillar, which is subject to spin-polarized current pulses of variable amplitude and duration. Two physical regimes are clearly distinguished: a long pulse duration regime, in which reversal occurs by spin-transfer assisted thermal activation over an energy barrier, and a short-time large pulse amplitude regime, in which the switching probability is determined by the spin-angular momentum in the current pulse. © 2010 American Institute of Physics.