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ECE PhD Proposal Review: Nirjhar Bhattacharjee

September 16, 2021 @ 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm

PhD Proposal Review: Sputtered Topological Insulator/Ferromagnet Heterostructures for Energy Efficient Spintronic Device Applications

Nirjhar Bhattacharjee

Location: Zoom Link

Abstract: Topological insulators (TI) are Van der Waals (VdW) layered materials which possess enormous spin-orbit coupling (SOC) strength and spin-momentum locked robust surface states. TIs in presence of time-reversal symmetry breaking magnetic order can also exhibit chiral quantum anomalous (QAH) or Axion insulator edge channels. These and myriad of other material properties predicted, and achievable utilizing TIs, magnetic-TIs (MTI) and TI based heterostructures can open the path towards realization of a diverse class of energy efficient spintronic devices for information processing and storage. Crystalline oriented TIs which possess topologically nontrivial properties are grown using molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) which is incompatible with industrial CMOS processes. Magnetron sputtering, on the other hand is the CMOS industry stand thin film growth technique because of the advantages of high throughput, large area, and high quality thin film growth capability. In this work, first the growth of high quality TI: Bi2Te3 thin films using CMOS compatible magnetron sputtering process is introduced. Next, room temperature characterization of magnetic and SOT properties of TI/ferromagnet (FM) heterostructures will be presented. Finally, fascinating magnetic properties of material systems with FM species intercalated in TIs will be reported which can possibly house exotic quantum material phases.

By varying process temperature between 20-250ÂșC, growth of Bi2Te3 with stoichiometric composition and varying crystalline order from disordered to highly c-axis oriented VdW layered films were obtained. Using X-ray diffraction (XRD) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) imaging, the crystalline property of the TI film was confirmed. Further, coupling the sputtered TI films with ferromagnetic (FM) thin films surprisingly showed a giant enhancement in Gilbert damping with c-axis oriented TI which is crucial for energy efficient SOT-MRAM devices. This suggested enhancement in spin-orbit coupling strength for c-axis oriented TI thin films compared to disordered ones. Formation of interface layers because of elemental diffusion has been reported in literature. But, literature reports on SOT characteristics have largely assumed atomically sharp interfaces between TI and FM layers. We observed crystalline order dependent interface thickness and composition in Bi2Te3/Ni80Fe20 heterostructures because of diffusion of Ni across the interface. An enhancement in damping-line SOT in crystalline ordered Bi2Te3 was observed. The spin-charge conversion efficiency was however found to be larger for granular and lowest for polycrystalline disordered Bi2Te3 samples considering the interface layers. Further, with the intercalation of Ni in Bi2Te3, emergence of an antiferromagnetic VdW phase was observed in Ni-intercalated Bi2Te3 interface. This AFM VdW interface resulted in a large spontaneous exchange bias in Bi2Te3/Ni80Fe20 and Bi2Te3/NiZn-Ferrite heterostructures at temperatures below ~63 K which is higher than the transition temperatures of MTIs reported in literature. Structural and chemical characterization of the Ni-intercalated Bi2Te3 showed evidence of formation of Ni-Te bonds and indicated towards formation of MTI compounds. These results open new avenues for experimental exploration of fascinating high-temperature QAH and other topologically nontrivial material phases in interfaces of industrial CMOS process compatible sputter-grown TI/FM heterostructures. Understanding the properties of these TI based material systems can lead to realization of robust energy efficient spintronic devices.


September 16, 2021
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm


Electrical and Computer Engineering
MS/PhD Thesis Defense