Large spin-orbit torque efficiency enhanced by magnetic structure of collinear antiferromagnet IrMn

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Science Advances  10 May 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 5, eaau6696
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aau6696


Spin-orbit torque (SOT) offers promising approaches to developing energy-efficient memory devices by electric switching of magnetization. Compared to other SOT materials, metallic antiferromagnet (AFM) potentially allows the control of SOT through its magnetic structure. Here, combining the results from neutron diffraction and spin-torque ferromagnetic resonance experiments, we show that the magnetic structure of epitaxially grown L10-IrMn (a collinear AFM) is distinct from the widely presumed bulk one. It consists of twin domains, with the spin axes orienting toward [111] and [−111], respectively. This unconventional magnetic structure is responsible for much larger SOT efficiencies up to 0.60 ± 0.04, compared to 0.083 ± 0.002 for the polycrystalline IrMn. Furthermore, we reveal that this magnetic structure induces a large isotropic bulk contribution and a comparable anisotropic interfacial contribution to the SOT efficiency. Our findings shed light on the critical roles of bulk and interfacial antiferromagnetism to SOT generated by metallic AFM.

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