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Switching a Perpendicular Ferromagnetic Layer by Competing Spin Currents

A novel structure consisting of two heavy metals that delivers competing spin currents of opposite spin indices.

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ABSTRACT
“An ultimate goal of spintronics is to control magnetism via electrical means. One promising way is to utilize a current-induced spin-orbit torque (SOT) originating from the strong spin-orbit coupling in heavy metals and their interfaces to switch a single perpendicularly magnetized ferromagnetic layer at room temperature. However, experimental realization of SOT switching to date requires an additional in-plane magnetic field, or other more complex measures, thus severely limiting its prospects. Here we present a novel structure consisting of two heavy metals that delivers competing spin currents of opposite spin indices. Instead of just canceling the pure spin current and the associated SOTs as one expects and corroborated by the widely accepted SOTs, such devices manifest the ability to switch the perpendicular CoFeB magnetization solely with an in-plane current without any magnetic field. Magnetic domain imaging reveals selective asymmetrical domain wall motion under a current. Our discovery not only paves the way for the application of SOT in nonvolatile technologies, but also poses questions on the underlying mechanism of the commonly believed SOT-induced switching phenomenon.”

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li Ma, Yufan Li, D. B. Gopman, Yu. P. Kabanov, R. D. Shull, and C. L. Chien
Phys. Rev. Lett. 120, 117703 – Published 16 March 2018



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