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Bulk Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction in amorphous ferrimagnetic alloys


Symmetry breaking is a fundamental concept that prevails in many branches of physics1,2,3,4,5. In magnetic materials, broken inversion symmetry induces the Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction (DMI), which results in fascinating physical behaviours6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14 with the potential for application in future spintronic devices15,16,17. Here, we report the observation of a bulk DMI in GdFeCo amorphous ferrimagnets. The DMI is found to increase linearly with an increasing thickness of the ferrimagnetic layer, which is a clear signature of the bulk nature of DMI. We also found that the DMI is independent of the interface between the heavy metal and ferrimagnetic layer. This bulk DMI is attributed to an asymmetric distribution of the elemental content in the GdFeCo layer, with spatial inversion symmetry broken throughout the layer. We expect that our experimental identification of a bulk DMI will open up additional possibilities to exploit this interaction in a wide range of materials.

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Fig. 1: Schematic illustration of amorphous ferrimagnets and the experimental set-up for DMI measurements.
Fig. 2: Thickness dependence of DMI in SiN/GdFeCo/SiN samples.
Fig. 3: Characteristics of GdFeCo films through STEM and EELS.
Fig. 4: Tight-binding model calculation of the DMI energy for TM/RE bilayers with a composition gradient.
Fig. 5: Thickness dependence of DMI in SiN/GdFeCo/SiN, SiN/GdFeCo/Pt and SiN/GdFeCo/Cu samples.

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This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) KAKENHI (grant nos 15H05702, 26870300, 26870304, 26103002, 26103004, 25220604 and 2604316), the Collaborative Research Program of the Institute for Chemical Research, Kyoto University, and the R & D project for ICT Key Technology of MEXT from the JSPS. This work was partly supported by The Cooperative Research Project Program of the Research Institute of Electrical Communication, Tohoku University. D.-H.K. was supported as an Overseas Researcher under a Postdoctoral Fellowship of JSPS (grant no. P16314). K.-J.L. was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017R1A2B2006119), the Samsung Research Funding Center of Samsung Electronics under project no. SRFCMA1702-02 and the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) Institutional Program (project no. 2V05750). D.-Y.K. and S.-B.C. were supported by the Samsung Science & Technology Foundation (SSTF-BA1802-07) and the National Research Foundations of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) (2015M3D1A1070465). D.-Y.K. was supported by the KIST institutional program (grant no. 2E29410) and the National Research Council of Science & Technology (grant no. CAP-16-01-KIST) funded by the Korea government (MSIT). S.K. was supported by the Creative Materials Discovery Program (2018M3D1A1089406) and the Basic Research Laboratory Program (NRF-2018R1A4A1020696) through the NRF.

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D.-H.K. conceptualized the work. D.-H.K. and T. Ono supervised the study. Y.F., H.Y. and A.T. prepared the films and T.N., T. Okuno, Y.H. and W.H. fabricated the devices. D.-H.K. and T.N. conducted the experiments for the DMI measurement. D.-Y.K. and S.-B.C. helped with the experiment for the asymmetric domain expansion. M.H. and H.K. performed the microscopy experiments. H.-W.K., G.G., H.-J.P. and K.-J.L. performed the numerical calculation based on the tight-binding model. D.-H.K. performed the analysis. D.-H.K., K.-J.L. and T.-Ono wrote the manuscript. All the authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Duck-Ho Kim or Teruo Ono.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Notes 1–7, Supplementary Figs. 1–9, Supplementary Tables 1 and 2, and Supplementary References 1–13.

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Kim, DH., Haruta, M., Ko, HW. et al. Bulk Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction in amorphous ferrimagnetic alloys. Nat. Mater. 18, 685–690 (2019).

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