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Open Access Nano Express

Resistivity dependence of magnetoresistance in Co/ZnO films

Zhi-Yong Quan1, Li Zhang1, Wei Liu1, Hao Zeng2 and Xiao-Hong Xu1*

Author Affiliations

1 Key Laboratory of Magnetic Molecules and Magnetic Information Materials of Ministry of Education and School of Chemistry and Materials Science, Shanxi Normal University, Linfen 041004, China

2 Department of Physics, University at Buffalo, the State University of New York, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2014, 9:6  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-9-6

Published: 6 January 2014

Abstract

We report the dependence of magnetoresistance effect on resistivity (ρ) in Co/ZnO films deposited by magnetron sputtering at different sputtering pressures with different ZnO contents. The magnitude of the resistivity reflects different carrier transport regimes ranging from metallic to hopping behaviors. Large room-temperature magnetoresistance greater than 8% is obtained in the resistivity range from 0.08 to 0.5 Ω · cm. The magnetoresistance value decreases markedly when the resistivity of the films is less than 0.08 Ω · cm or greater than 0.5 Ω · cm. When 0.08 Ω · cm < ρ < 0.5 Ω · cm, the conduction contains two channels: the spin-dependent tunneling channel and the spin-independent second-order hopping (N = 2). The former gives rise to a high room-temperature magnetoresistance effect. When ρ > 0.5 Ω · cm, the spin-independent higher-order hopping (N > 2) comes into play and decreases the tunneling magnetoresistance value. For the samples with ρ < 0.08 Ω · cm, reduced magnetoresistance is mainly ascribed to the formation of percolation paths through interconnected elongated metallic Co particles. This observation is significant for the improvement of room-temperature magnetoresistance value for future spintronic devices.