Research ArticleMATERIALS SCIENCE

Thin films of topological Kondo insulator candidate SmB6: Strong spin-orbit torque without exclusive surface conduction

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  19 Jan 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 1, eaap8294
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aap8294

You are currently viewing the abstract.

View Full Text

Abstract

The advent of topological insulators (TIs), a novel class of materials that harbor a metallic spin-chiral surface state coexisting with band-insulating bulk, opens up new possibilities for spintronics. One promising route is current-induced switching of an adjacent magnetic layer via spin-orbit torque (SOT), arising from the large spin-orbit coupling intrinsically possessed by TIs. The Kondo insulator SmB6 has been recently proposed to be a strongly correlated TI, supported by the observation of a metallic surface state in bulk SmB6, as evidenced by the thickness independence of the low-temperature resistance plateau. We report the synthesis of epitaxial (001) SmB6/Si thin films and a systematic thickness-dependent electrical transport study. Although the low-temperature resistance plateau is observed for all films from 50 to 500 nm in thickness, the resistance is distinctively thickness-dependent and does not support the notion of surface conduction and interior insulation. On the other hand, we demonstrate that SmB6 can generate a large SOT to switch an adjacent ferromagnetic layer, even at room temperature. The effective SOT generated from SmB6 is comparable to that from β-W, one of the strongest SOT materials.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text