Research ArticleSPINTRONICS

Anomalous spin-orbit torque switching due to field-like torque–assisted domain wall reflection

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Science Advances  21 Apr 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 4, e1603099
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603099


Spin-orbit torques (SOTs) allow the electrical control of magnetic states. Current-induced SOT switching of the perpendicular magnetization is of particular technological importance. The SOT consists of damping-like and field-like torques, and understanding the combined effects of these two torque components is required for efficient SOT switching. Previous quasi-static measurements have reported an increased switching probability with the width of current pulses, as predicted considering the damping-like torque alone. We report a decreased switching probability at longer pulse widths, based on time-resolved measurements. Micromagnetic analysis reveals that this anomalous SOT switching results from domain wall reflections at sample edges. The domain wall reflection was found to strongly depend on the field-like torque and its relative sign to the damping-like torque. Our result demonstrates a key role of the field-like torque in deterministic SOT switching and the importance of the sign correlation of the two torque components, which may shed light on the SOT switching mechanism.

  • Spintronics
  • spin-orbit torque
  • magnetization switching
  • magneto optical Kerr effect
  • domain wall

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