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Symmetry-breaking interlayer Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions in synthetic antiferromagnets

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The magnetic interfacial Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction (DMI) in multilayered thin films can lead to chiral spin states, which are of paramount importance for future spintronic technologies1,2. Interfacial DMI typically manifests as an intralayer interaction, mediated via a paramagnetic heavy metal in systems lacking inversion symmetry3. Here we show that, by designing synthetic antiferromagnets with canted magnetization states4,5, it is also possible to observe direct evidence of the interfacial interlayer DMI at room temperature. The interlayer DMI breaks the symmetry of the magnetic reversal process via the emergence of non-collinear spin states, which results in chiral exchange-biased hysteresis loops. The spin chiral interlayer interactions reported here are expected to manifest in a range of multilayered thin-film systems, opening up as yet unexplored avenues for the development and exploitation of chiral effects in magnetic heterostructures6,7,8.

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Fig. 1: Interlayer DMI investigations in canted SAFs.
Fig. 2: Chiral exchange bias due to the interlayer DMI.
Fig. 3: Bias field dependence on CoFeB thickness.
Fig. 4: Emergence of spin modulations.

Data availability

All data associated to this publication is available via Enlighten, the University of Glasgow public repository. All metadata for this publication is available via the following link:

Code availability

The atomistic and macrospin Monte Carlo codes used for this study are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request.

Change history

  • 24 June 2019

    In the original version of this article originally published, an oversight during the production process meant that ref. 16 was not updated from the preprint version; this has now been amended and the updated reference reads ‘Han, D.-S. Long-range chiral exchange interaction in synthetic antiferromagnets. Nat. Mater. (2019)’.


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The authors acknowledge discussions with N. Jaouen, S. Stanescu and A. Hierro-Rodríguez, as well as experimental support from D. Sanz Hernández, A. Welbourne, P. Seem and I. Farrer. A.F.-P. acknowledges funding from an EPSRC Early Career Fellowship EP/M008517/1 and from the Winton Program for the Physics of Sustainability. E.V. acknowledges support from the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no. 665095 (MAGicSky), and D.P. and R.P.C. acknowledge from the Templeton World Charity Foundation. F.U. acknowledges support from the Erasmus Mobility programme.

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Authors and Affiliations



A.F.-P. designed and carried out the experiments, grew the samples, analysed the data, carried out the Monte Carlo macrospin simulations and wrote the manuscript. E.V. performed the analytical calculations, carried out the atomistic Monte Carlo simulations and analysed the data derived from them, and wrote the manuscript. F.U. grew samples and analysed data. R.M. contributed to the experimental characterization of the samples. All authors discussed and contributed to the interpretation of the results, as well as to the writing of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Amalio Fernández-Pacheco or Elena Vedmedenko.

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Supplementary Notes 1–7, Supplementary Figs. 1–9, Supplementary references 1–15

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Fernández-Pacheco, A., Vedmedenko, E., Ummelen, F. et al. Symmetry-breaking interlayer Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interactions in synthetic antiferromagnets. Nat. Mater. 18, 679–684 (2019).

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