Research ArticlePHYSICS

Molecular engineering of Rashba spin-charge converter

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Science Advances  23 Mar 2018:
Vol. 4, no. 3, eaar3899
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aar3899

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In heterostructures with broken inversion symmetry, the electrons’ motion is coupled to their spin through interface-driven spin-orbit coupling: the Rashba effect. The Rashba effect enables the interconversion between spin and charge currents, offering a variety of novel spintronic phenomena and functionalities. However, despite the significant progress in Rashba physics, controlling the spin-charge conversion in metallic heterostructures remains a major challenge. We show that molecular self-assembly provides a way to engineer the Rashba spin-charge converters. We demonstrate that magnetoresistance and voltage generation originating from the spin-charge conversion in metallic heterostructures can be manipulated by decorating the surface with self-assembled organic monolayers through the cooperative molecular field effect. We also demonstrate reversible phototuning of the spin-charge conversion through light-driven molecular transformations using a molecule that can photoisomerize between the trans and cis states. These findings, with the almost-infinite chemical tunability of organic monolayers, pave the way toward molecular engineering of spin-orbit devices.

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