Nanoscale imaging of magnetization reversal driven by spin-orbit torque
Ian J. Gilbert, Andrew P. Chen, Daniel B. Gopman, Andrew L. Balk, Daniel T. Pierce, Mark D. Stiles, John Unguris
We use scanning electron microscopy with polarization analysis (SEMPA) to image deterministic, spin-orbit torque driven magnetization reversal of in-plane magnetized CoFeB rectangles in zero applied magnetic field. The spin-orbit torque is generated by running a current through heavy metal microstrips, either Pt or Ta, upon which the CoFeB rectangles are deposited. We image the magnetization before and after a current pulse to see the effect of spin-orbit torque on the magnetic nanostructure. The observed changes in magnetic structure can be complex, deviating significantly from a simple macrospin approximation, especially in larger elements. Overall, however, the directions of the magnetization reversal in the Pt and Ta devices are opposite, consistent with the opposite signs of the spin Hall angles of these materials. Our results elucidate the effects of current density, geometry, and magnetic domain structure on magnetization switching driven by spin-orbit torque.