Synthetic antiferromagnets with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA-SAFs) have gained growing attention for both conventional and next-generation spin-based technologies. While the progress of PMA-SAF spintronic devices on rigid substrates has been remarkable, only few examples of flexible thin-film heterostructures are reported in the literature, all containing platinum group metals (PGMs). Systems based on Co/Ni may offer additional advantages with respect to devices containing PGMs, i.e., low damping and high spin polarization. Moreover, limiting the use of PGMs may relieve the demand for critical raw materials and reduce the environmental impact of related technologies, thus contributing to the transition toward a more sustainable future. Here, we discuss for the first time the realization of Co/Ni-based PMA-SAFs on polymer tapes and exploit it to obtain flexible giant magneto-resistive spin valves (GMR-SVs) with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy. Several combinations of buffer and capping layers (i.e., Pt, Pd, and Cu/Ta) are also investigated. High-quality flexible SAFs with a fully compensated antiferromagnetic region and SVs with a sizable GMR ratio (up to 4.4%), in line with the values reported in the literature for similar systems on rigid substrates, were obtained in all cases. However, we demonstrate that PGMs allows achieving the best results when used as a buffer layer, while Cu is the best choice as a capping layer to optimize the properties of the stacks. We justify the role of buffer and capping layers in terms of different interdiffusion mechanisms occurring at the interface between the metallic layers. These results, along with the high robustness of the samples' properties against bending (up to 180°), indicate that complex and bendable Co/Ni-based heterostructures with reduced content of PGMs can be obtained on flexible tapes, allowing for the development of novel flexible and sustainable spintronic devices for applications in many fields including wearable electronics, soft robotics, and biomedicine.
Thin-Film Heterostructures Based on Co/Ni Synthetic Antiferromagnets on Polymer Tapes: Toward Sustainable Flexible Spintronics / Hassan, M.; Laureti, S.; Rinaldi, C.; Fagiani, F.; Barucca, G.; Casoli, F.; Mezzi, A.; Bolli, E.; Kaciulis, S.; Fix, M.; Ullrich, A.; Albrecht, M.; Varvaro, G.. - In: ACS APPLIED MATERIALS & INTERFACES. - ISSN 1944-8244. - ELETTRONICO. - 14:45(2022), pp. 51496-51509. [10.1021/acsami.2c14000]