Non-destructive imaging for quality assurance of magnetoresistive random-access memory junctions

E. Jackson, Y. Wu, W. Frost, J. Y. Kim, M. Samiepour, K. Elphick, M. Sun, T. Kubota, K. Takanashi, T. Ichinose, S. Mizukami, A. Hirohata

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


We have developed a new non-destructive sub-surface interfacial imaging technique. By controlling the penetration depth of the incident electrons, through control of the electron beam acceleration voltage in a scanning electron microscope, we can observe sub-surface interfaces. The voltages for imaging are selected based on Monte Carlo electron flight simulations, where the two voltages have >5% difference between the number of backscattered electrons generated in the layers above and below the buried interface under investigation. Due to the non-destructive nature, this imaging method can be used alongside an applied electrical current and voltage, allowing concurrent observations of the interfacial structures and transport properties, e.g. effective and active junction area, to occur. Magnetic tunnel junctions used in magnetic random access memory have been imaged and the data has been fed back to improve their fabrication processes. Our imaging method is therefore highly useful as both a quality assurance and development tool for magnetic memory and nanoelectronic devices.

Original languageEnglish
Article number014004
JournalJournal of Physics D: Applied Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • MRAM
  • MTJ
  • TMR
  • devices
  • electron microscopy
  • interfaces
  • microanalysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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