We have investigated the use of Pb and Au as surfactants in an attempt to achieve smoother and sharper interfaces in three types of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) spin valve multilayers: symmetric spin valves, bottom spin valves, and top spin valves. The coupling fields are reduced by a factor of 10 for symmetric and bottom spin valves and by a factor of 3 for top spin valves, presumably by suppressing roughness and interdiffusion at the Co/Cu/Co interfaces, when ~ 1 monolayer of Pb is deposited in the early stages of spin valve growth. The Pb has a strong tendency to float out or segregate to the surface during deposition of the spin valve leaving the GMR largely unaltered. Au is almost as effective as Pb, however the Au tends to be left behind in the spin valve, and the GMR is reduced slightly. Attempts to use Hg as a surfactant were unsuccessful. The coupling field increased, and the GMR decreased sharply.
Citation: Journal of Applied Physics
Pub Type: Journals