Magnetization reversal driven by spin-transfer-torque in perpendicular shape anisotropy magnetic tunnel junctions
The concept of perpendicular shape anisotropy spin-transfer torque magnetic random-access memory (PSA-STT-MRAM) consists in increasing the storage layer thickness to values comparable to the cell diameter, to induce a perpendicular shape anisotropy in the magnetic storage layer. Making use of that contribution, the downsize scalability of the STT-MRAM may be extended towards sub-20 nm technological nodes, thanks to a reinforcement of the thermal stability factor $\Delta$. Although the larger storage layer thickness improves $\Delta$, it is expected to negatively impact the writing current and switching time. Hence, optimization of the cell dimensions (diameter, thickness) is of utmost importance for attaining a sufficiently high $\Delta$ while keeping a moderate writing current. Micromagnetic simulations were carried out for different pillar thicknesses of fixed lateral size 20 nm. The switching time and the reversal mechanism were analysed as a function of the applied voltage and aspect-ratio (AR) of the storage layer. For AR $<$ 1, the magnetization reversal resembles a macrospin-like mechanism, while for AR $>$ 1 a non-coherent reversal is observed, characterized by the nucleation of a transverse domain wall at the ferromagnet/insulator interface which then propagates along the vertical axis of the pillar. It was further observed that the inverse of the switching time is linearly dependent on the applied voltage. This study was extended to sub-20 nm width with a value of $\Delta$ around 80. It was observed that the voltage necessary to reverse the magnetic layer increases as the lateral size is reduced, accompanied with a transition from macrospin-reversal to a buckling-like reversal at high aspect-ratios.