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We studied the thermal stability of perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA) in Ta/Mo/CoFeB/MgO/Ta films with and without inserted Mo layers. In the absence of a Mo layer, the films show PMA at annealing temperatures below 300 °C. On the other hand, the insertion of a Mo layer preserves PMA at annealing temperatures of up to 500 °C; however, a higher annealing temperature leads to the collapse of PMA. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy(XPS) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) were used to study the microstructure of the films to understand the deterioration of PMA. The XPS results show that the segregation of Ta is partly suppressed by inserting a Mo layer. Once inserted, Mo does not remain at the interface of Ta and CoFeB but migrates to the surface of the films. The HRTEM results show that the crystallization of the MgO (001) texture is improved owing to the higher annealing temperature of the Mo inserted sample. A smooth and clear CoFeB/MgO interface is evident. The inserted Mo layer not only helps to obtain sharper and smoother interfaces but also contributes to the crystallization after the higher annealing temperature of films.


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