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Pure Electrical Switching of a Single Ferromagnetic Layer with Perpendicular Magnetization



Qinli Ma, Yufan Li, Daniel B. Gopman, Robert D. Shull, C. L. Chien


An ultimate goal of spintronics is to control magnetism via electrical means [1,2]. One promosing way is to utilize current-induced spin-orbital torque (SOT) originated from strong spin-orbital coupling in heavy metals and their interfaces to switch a single perpendiculary magnetized ferromagnetic layer at room temperature [2,9]. However, experimental realization of SOT switching at present requires an additional in-plane magnetic field, or other more complex measures, thus gravely limiting its potential in spintronic devices [1--13]. Here we present a new structure consisting of a bilayer of two heavy metals with opposite spin Hall angle 0(subSH) in the proximity to a thin CoFeB layer with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA). Instead of canceling the pure spin current as intuitively expected, such devices manifest the ability to switch the CoFeB magnetization solely with an in-plane current without a magnetic field. Magnetic domain imaging reveals selective domain wall motion under a current. Our discovery not only paves the way for the application of SOT in non-volatile technologies, but also poses questions on the underlying mechanism of the commonly believed SOT-induced switching phenomenon.
Nature Materials
Created March 16, 2018, Updated November 10, 2018