Atomistic investigation of the temperature and size dependence of the energy barrier of CoFeB/MgO nanodots

A. Meo, R. Chepulskyy, D. Apalkov, R. W. Chantrell, R. F.L. Evans

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The balance between low power consumption and high efficiency in memory devices is a major limiting factor in the development of new technologies. Magnetic random access memories (MRAMs) based on CoFeB/MgO magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJs) have been proposed as candidates to replace the current technology due to their non-volatility, high thermal stability, efficient operational performance. Understanding the size and temperature dependence of the energy barrier and the nature of the transition mechanism across the barrier between stable configurations is a key issue in the development of MRAM. Here, we use an atomistic spin model to study the energy barrier to reversal in CoFeB/MgO nanodots to determine the effects of size, temperature, external field. We find that for practical device sizes in the 10-50 nm range, the energy barrier has a complex behavior characteristic of a transition from a coherent to domain wall driven reversal process. Such a transition region is not accessible to simple analytical estimates of the energy barrier preventing a unique theoretical calculation of the thermal stability. The atomistic simulations of the energy barrier give good agreement with experimental measurements for similar systems, which are at the state of the art and can provide guidance to experiments identifying suitable materials and MTJ stacks with the desired thermal stability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number0018909
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 19 Aug 2020

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