Microwave Frequency Stability and Spin Wave Mode Structure in Nano-Contact Spin Torque Oscillators

Detta är en avhandling från Stockholm : KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Sammanfattning: The nano-contact spin torque oscillator (NC-STO) is an emerging device for highly tunable microwave frequency generation in the range from 0.1 GHz to above 65 GHz with an on-chip footprint on the scale of a few μm. The frequency is inherent to the magnetic material of the NC-STO and is excited by an electrical DC current by means of the spin torque transfer effect. Although the general operation is well understood, more detailed aspects such as a generally nonlinear frequency versus current relationship, mode-jumping and high device-to-device variability represent open questions. Further application-oriented questions are related to increasing the electrical output power through synchronization of multiple NC-STOs and integration with CMOS integrated circuits.This thesis consists of an experimental part and a simulation part. Experimentally, for the frequency stability it is found that the slow but strong 1/f-type frequency fluctuations are related to the degree of nonlinearity and the presence of perturbing, unexcited modes. It is also found that the NC-STO can exhibit up to three propagating spin wave oscillation modes with different frequencies and can randomly jump between them. These findings were made possible through the development of a specialized microwave time-domain measurement circuit. Another instrumental achievement was made with synchrotron X-rays, where we image dynamically the magnetic internals of an operating NC-STO device and reveal a spin wave mode structure with a complexity significantly higher than the one predicted by the present theory.In the simulations, we are able to reproduce the nonlinear current dependence by including spin wave-reflecting barriers in the nm-thick metallic, magnetic free layer. A physical model for the barriers is introduced in the form of metal grain boundaries with reduced magnetic exchange coupling. Using the experimentally measured average grain size of 30 nm, the spin wave mode structure resulting from the grain model is able to reproduce the experimentally found device nonlinearity and high device-to-device variability.In conclusion, the results point out microscopic material grains in the metallic free layer as the reason behind the nonlinear frequency versus current behavior and multiple propagating spin wave modes and thereby as a source of device-to-device variability and frequency instability.