Theory of tunneling magnetoresistance of an epitaxial Fe/MgO/Fe(001) junction

Mathon, J. and Umerski, A. (2001). Theory of tunneling magnetoresistance of an epitaxial Fe/MgO/Fe(001) junction. Physical Review B, 63(22) pp. 2204031–2204034.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1103/PhysRevB.63.220403

Abstract

Calculation of the tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) of an epitaxial Fe/MgO/Fe(001) junction is reported. The conductances of the junction in its ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic configurations are determined without any approximations from the real-space Kubo formula using tight-binding bands fitted to an ab initio band structure of iron and MgO. The calculated optimistic TMR ratio is in excess of 1000% for an MgO barrier of ≈20 atomic planes and the spin polarization of the tunneling current is positive for all MgO thicknesses. It is also found that spin-dependent tunneling in an Fe/MgO/Fe(001) junction is not entirely determined by states at the Γ point (k‖=0) even for MgO thicknesses as large as ≈20 atomic planes. All these results are explained qualitatively in terms of the Fe majority- and minority-spin surface spectral densities and the complex MgO Fermi surface.

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