Review Article | Published:

Emergent phenomena induced by spin–orbit coupling at surfaces and interfaces

Nature volume 539, pages 509517 (24 November 2016) | Download Citation

Abstract

Spin–orbit coupling (SOC) describes the relativistic interaction between the spin and momentum degrees of freedom of electrons, and is central to the rich phenomena observed in condensed matter systems. In recent years, new phases of matter have emerged from the interplay between SOC and low dimensionality, such as chiral spin textures and spin-polarized surface and interface states. These low-dimensional SOC-based realizations are typically robust and can be exploited at room temperature. Here we discuss SOC as a means of producing such fundamentally new physical phenomena in thin films and heterostructures. We put into context the technological promise of these material classes for developing spin-based device applications at room temperature.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to A.K.C. Tan and S. M. Rezende for their help preparing illustrations. We acknowledge support from the Singapore Ministry of Education (MOE), an Academic Research Fund Tier 2 (Reference No. MOE2014-T2-1-050), the National Research Foundation (NRF) of Singapore, a NRF Investigatorship (Reference No. NRF-NRFI2015-04) and the A*STAR Pharos Fund (1527400026), Singapore; and the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France, for funding this work.

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Affiliations

  1. Division of Physics and Applied Physics, School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, 637371 Singapore

    • Anjan Soumyanarayanan
    •  & Christos Panagopoulos
  2. Data Storage Institute, A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), 2 Fusionopolis Way #08-01, 138634 Singapore

    • Anjan Soumyanarayanan
  3. Unité Mixte de Physique, CNRS, Thales, Université Paris-Sud, Université Paris-Saclay, Palaiseau 91767, France

    • Nicolas Reyren
    •  & Albert Fert

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All authors contributed equally to this work.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Albert Fert or Christos Panagopoulos.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature19820

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