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Spin-Polarized Density of States and Electron Tunnelling from the CO/Al2O3 Interface

  • D. Nguyen-Manh (a1), E.Yu. Tsymbal (a1), D. G. Pettifor (a1), C. Arcangeli (a2), R. Tank (a2), O. K. Andersen (a2) and A. Pasturel (a3)...


In order to elucidate the mechanism of spin-polarized electron tunneling in thin-film ferromagnet-insulator junctions, self-consistent band structure calculations of the CO/Al2O3 interface have been performed using a new LMTO technique. Since the results of the calculations are very sensitive to the distance between the Co and Al planes, we have minimised the total energy with respect to this distance. Our calculations show that at the Fermi energy a strong bonding between the 3d-electrons of Co with the sp-electrons of Al at the interface can have an important influence on the spin polarization of the layer-projected density of states (LPDOS) of inner Al and O layers. Since the Fermi energy lies within the minority-spin d-band of Co but above the majority-spin d-band, the sp-d bonding results in a smaller LPDOS of the minority-spin electrons of the interfacial Al layers in comparison to that of the majority-spin electrons. This asymmetry in the LPDOS extends to the inner Al2O3 layers implying a positive spin polarization of the tunneling density of states. The result is consistent with experimental observations on tunnelling from cobalt through alumina where positive values of the spin polarization of the tunnelling current were measured.



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