Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Oxygen as a Surfactant in the Growth of Giant Magnetoresistance Spin Valves



William F. Egelhoff Jr., P J. Chen, Cedric J. Powell, Mark D. Stiles, Robert McMichael, J Judy, K Takano, A. E. Berkowitz


We have found a novel method for increasing the giant Magnetoresistance (GMR) of Co/Cu spin valves with the use of oxygen. Surprisingly, spin valves with the largest GMR are not produced in the best vacuum. Introducing 5X10-9 Torr (7X10-7 Pa) into our ultrahigh vacuum deposition chamber during spin-valve growth increases the GMR, decreases the ferromagnetic coupling between magnetic leyers, and decreases the sheet resistance of the spin valves. It appears that the oxygen may act as a surfactant during film growth to suppress defects and to create a surface which scatters electrons more specularly. Using this technique, bottom spin valves and symmetric spin valves with GMR values of 19.0% and 24.8% respectively, have been produced. These are the largest valves ever reported for such structures.
Applied Physics
No. 12


Giant Magnetoresistance(GMR), magnetic layers, spin valves, surfactant


Egelhoff Jr., W. , Chen, P. , Powell, C. , Stiles, M. , McMichael, R. , Judy, J. , Takano, K. and Berkowitz, A. (1997), Oxygen as a Surfactant in the Growth of Giant Magnetoresistance Spin Valves, Applied Physics (Accessed May 29, 2023)
Created November 30, 1997, Updated October 12, 2021