Interfacial effects on the tunneling magnetoresistance in La_(0.7)Sr_(0.3)MnO_(3)/MgO/Fe tunneling junctions

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We report on magnetotransport properties on La_(0.7)Sr_(0.3)MnO_(3)/MgO/Fe tunnel junctions grown epitaxially on top of (001)-oriented SrTiO_(3) substrates by sputtering. It is shown that the magnetoresistive response depends critically on the MgO/Fe interfacial properties. The appearance of an FeOX layer by the interface destroys the 1 symmetry filtering effect of the MgO/Fe system and only a small negative tunneling magnetoresistance (TMR) (∼ −3 %) is measured. However, in annealed samples a switchover from positive TMR (∼ +25% at 70 K) to negative TMR (∼ −1 %) is observed around 120 K. This change is associated with the transition from semiconducting at high T to insulating at low T taking place at the Verwey transition (TV ∼ 120 K) in Fe3O4, thus suggesting the formation of a very thin slab of magnetite at the MgO/Fe interface during annealing treatments. These results highlight the relevance of interfacial properties on the tunneling conduction process and how it can be substantially modified through appropriate interface engineering.
© 2015 American Physical Society. We acknowledge financial support from the Spanish MINECO through grants (MAT2012-33207, MAT2011- 27470-C02, MAT2012-37638 and Consolider Ingenio 2010 - CSD2009-00013 (Imagine)), from CAM through Grant No. S2009/MAT-1756 (Phama) and Basque Government (PI2011- 1). Financial support from EC through FEDER program and Marie Curie Actions (256470-ITAMOSCINOM) is also acknowledged. C.M.B. thanks the Spanish MINECO for the financial support through the RyC program. The authors would like to thank the technical staff of the ICMAB for their assistance
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