Observation of spin-orbit magnetoresistance in metallic thin films on magnetic insulators

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Science Advances  05 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaao3318
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aao3318

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A magnetoresistance (MR) effect induced by the Rashba spin-orbit interaction was predicted, but not yet observed, in bilayers consisting of normal metal and ferromagnetic insulator. We present an experimental observation of this new type of spin-orbit MR (SOMR) effect in the Cu[Pt]/Y3Fe5O12 (YIG) bilayer structure, where the Cu/YIG interface is decorated with nanosize Pt islands. This new MR is apparently not caused by the bulk spin-orbit interaction because of the negligible spin-orbit interaction in Cu and the discontinuity of the Pt islands. This SOMR disappears when the Pt islands are absent or located away from the Cu/YIG interface; therefore, we can unambiguously ascribe it to the Rashba spin-orbit interaction at the interface enhanced by the Pt decoration. The numerical Boltzmann simulations are consistent with the experimental SOMR results in the angular dependence of magnetic field and the Cu thickness dependence. Our finding demonstrates the realization of the spin manipulation by interface engineering.

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