Half-metallic CrO_2 thin films for spintronic applications
CrO_2 is a well-established half-metallic oxide with near perfect spin polarization - known to have the highest spin polarization among all known materials theoretically as well as experimentally. This means that the conduction electrons in CrO_2 have only one kind of spin i.e. conduction is due only to the majority spin electrons. Because of its high spin polarization, CrO_2 stands as an ideal and one of the most attractive candidates for spin-electronic applications as well as of fundamental interests. The enormous potential of CrO_2 is still untapped since thin film growth modes, interface/surface properties and various factors affecting them are not very well understood or, relatively unknown. Reported works confirm strained growth of (100) CrO_2 films and strain free growth of (110) CrO_2 films on iso-structural TiO_2 substrates investigated using X$ - $ray diffraction. Superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) and element specific X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) techniques were employed to investigate the effect of this substrate-induced strain on the magnetic properties of the films. Magnetic tunnel junctions (MTJ) were fabricated with CrO_2 , Cr_2 O_3 [natural oxide of Cr] as the thin insulating barrier and Co as the other ferromagnetic electrode using photolithography. I-V characteristics of this spin-electronic device are reported. Also, results on the low pressure chemical vapor deposition (CVD) growth of CrO_2 and its comparison with standard growth technique under atmospheric pressure are reported.