Tunnelling magnetoresistive devices find applications as a magnetic sensors in hard disk read heads and in emerging non-volatile magnetic random access memory (MRAM) technologies. The active part of the device consists of an insulating MgO film sandwiched between two ferromagnetic electrodes. While great progress has been made in the performance of these devices there is a need to make further improvements in the materials to allow widespread adoption of MRAM technology for memory applications. This includes finding new barrier materials which present a lower resistance-area product and understanding and mitigating the negative impact of defects such as vacancies and grain boundaries on performance.
In this project you will employ first principles methods (density functional theory) to model materials for tunnelling magnetoresistive devices in order to guide the optimisation of this technology. You will work closely with experimental collaborators to test and verify your predictions.