Magnetic tunnel junctions and method for making the magnetic tunnel junctions are provided. The magnetic tunnel junctions are characterized by a tunnel barrier oxide layer sandwiched between two ferromagnetic layers. The methods used to fabricate the magnetic tunnel junctions are capable of completely and selectively oxidizing a tunnel junction precursor material using an oxidizing gas containing a mixture of gases to provide a tunnel junction oxide without oxidizing the adjacent ferromagnetic materials. In some embodiments the gas mixture is a mixture of CO and CO.sub.2 or a mixture of H.sub.2 and H.sub.2O.
STATEMENT OF GOVERNMENT RIGHTS
Research funding was provided for this invention by the United States Department of Energy under grant No. DE-FG02-99ER45777. The United States government has certain rights in this invention.