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Magnetization switching through giant spin–orbit torque in a magnetically doped topological insulator heterostructure

Nature Materials volume 13, pages 699704 (2014) | Download Citation

Abstract

Recent demonstrations of magnetization switching induced by in-plane current in heavy metal/ferromagnetic heterostructures (HMFHs) have drawn great attention to spin torques arising from large spin–orbit coupling (SOC). Given the intrinsic strong SOC, topological insulators (TIs) are expected to be promising candidates for exploring spin–orbit torque (SOT)-related physics. Here we demonstrate experimentally the magnetization switching through giant SOT induced by an in-plane current in a chromium-doped TI bilayer heterostructure. The critical current density required for switching is below 8.9 × 104 A cm−2 at 1.9 K. Moreover, the SOT is calibrated by measuring the effective spin–orbit field using second-harmonic methods. The effective field to current ratio and the spin-Hall angle tangent are almost three orders of magnitude larger than those reported for HMFHs. The giant SOT and efficient current-induced magnetization switching exhibited by the bilayer heterostructure may lead to innovative spintronics applications such as ultralow power dissipation memory and logic devices.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful for the support from the DARPA Meso programme under contract No. N66001-12-1-4034 and N66001-11-1-4105. We also acknowledge the support from the Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN) and the support from the FAME Center, one of six centres of STARnet, a Semiconductor Research Corporation programme sponsored by MARCO and DARPA. P.U., X.K. and M.L. acknowledge partial support from the Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship.

Author information

Author notes

    • Yabin Fan
    • , Pramey Upadhyaya
    •  & Xufeng Kou

    These authors contributed equally to this work.

Affiliations

  1. Department of Electrical Engineering, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

    • Yabin Fan
    • , Pramey Upadhyaya
    • , Xufeng Kou
    • , Murong Lang
    • , Zhenxing Wang
    • , Jianshi Tang
    • , Liang He
    • , Li-Te Chang
    • , Mohammad Montazeri
    • , Guoqiang Yu
    • , Wanjun Jiang
    • , Tianxiao Nie
    • , Robert N. Schwartz
    •  & Kang L. Wang
  2. Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA

    • So Takei
    •  & Yaroslav Tserkovnyak

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Contributions

Y.F., P.U., X.K. and K.L.W. conceived and designed the research. X.K. and L.H. grew the material. M.L. fabricated the Hall bar devices. Y.F., P.U. and X.K. performed the measurements. M.L., Z.W., J.T., L.H., L-T.C., M.M., G.Y., W.J., T.N. and R.N.S. contributed to the measurements and analysis. X.K. and T.N. performed structural analysis. Y.F., P.U., S.T. and Y.T. designed the theoretical model. Y.F., P.U., X.K. and K.L.W. wrote the paper with help from all of the other co-authors.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Yabin Fan or Liang He or Kang L. Wang.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/nmat3973

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