Chapter — Spin transfer torques in magnetic tunnel junctions

A. Manchon, N. Ryzhanova, M. Chshiev, A. Vedyaev, K.J. Lee, B. Dieny, Spin transfer torques in magnetic tunnel junctions, 63-106, in Giant Magnetoresistance: New Research, Eds: A. D. Torres and D. A. Perez, Nova Science Publishers, Inc. (2009). ISBN: 978-161324951-2, 978-160456733-5


This chapter presents a review on spin transfer torque in magnetic tunnel junctions. In the first part, we propose an overview of experimental and theoretical studies addressing current-induced magnetization excitations in magnetic tunnel junctions. The most significant results are presented and the main observable characteristics are discussed. A description of the mechanism of spin transfer in ferromagnets is finally proposed. In the second part, a quantum description of spin transport in magnetic tunnel junctions with amorphous barrier is developed. The role of spindependent reflections as well as electron incidence and spin-filtering by the barrier are described. We show that these mechanisms give rise to specific properties of spin transfer in tunnel junctions, very different from the case of metallic spin-valves. In the third part, the theoretical observable features of spin transfer in magnetic tunnel junctions are derived and the validity of these results is discussed and compared to recent experiments. To conclude this chapter, we study the mechanism of spin transfer in half-metallic tunnel junctions, expected to mimic MgO-based magnetic tunnel junctions.

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