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Chiral-spin rotation of non-collinear antiferromagnet by spin–orbit torque

Abstract

Electrical manipulation of magnetic materials by current-induced spin torque constitutes the basis of spintronics. Here, we show an unconventional response to spin–orbit torque of a non-collinear antiferromagnet Mn3Sn, which has attracted attention owing to its large anomalous Hall effect despite a vanishingly small net magnetization. In epitaxial heavy-metal/Mn3Sn heterostructures, we observe a characteristic fluctuation of the Hall resistance under the application of electric current. This observation is explained by a rotation of the chiral-spin structure of Mn3Sn driven by spin–orbit torque. We find that the variation of the magnitude of anomalous Hall effect fluctuation with sample size correlates with the number of magnetic domains in the Mn3Sn layer. In addition, the dependence of the critical current on Mn3Sn layer thickness reveals that spin–orbit torque generated by small current densities, below 20 MA cm−2, effectively acts on the chiral-spin structure even in Mn3Sn layers that are thicker than 20 nm. The results provide additional pathways for electrical manipulation of magnetic materials.

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Fig. 1: Sample layout and structural properties.
Fig. 2: Measurement set up and Hall resistance measurement under SOT.
Fig. 3: Calculated dynamics of chiral-spin structure under SOT.
Fig. 4: Size dependence of Hall resistance fluctuation.
Fig. 5: The tMn3Sn dependence of switching field and critical current density.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this work are available from the corresponding authors upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank T. Dietl, J. Llandro, S. DuttaGupta, K. Furuya and R. Takechi for their technical support and fruitful discussion. The work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Kakenhi (no. 19H05622, no. 19J13405 and no. 20K22409), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science Core-to-Core Program and Research Institute of Electrical Communication Cooperative Research Projects.

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Contributions

Y.T, J.I., S.F. and H.O. planned the study. Y.T., J-Y.Y., R.I. and B.J. prepared the stacks. Y.T., R.I. and B.J. processed the stacks into devices. Y.T performed measurements and analysed the data with input from Y.Y., S.K., J.I. and S.F.; Y.Y. performed the calculation of the dynamics of the non-collinear antiferromagnet. All authors discussed the results. Y.T., Y.Y. and S.F. wrote the manuscript with input from B.J., S.K., J.I. and H.O.

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Correspondence to Yutaro Takeuchi, Yuta Yamane or Shunsuke Fukami.

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Peer review information Nature Materials thanks Mathias Kläui and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figs. 1–10, Discussion and Table 1.

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Takeuchi, Y., Yamane, Y., Yoon, JY. et al. Chiral-spin rotation of non-collinear antiferromagnet by spin–orbit torque. Nat. Mater. 20, 1364–1370 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41563-021-01005-3

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