Current polarity-dependent manipulation of antiferromagnetic domains

Abstract

Antiferromagnets have several favourable properties as active elements in spintronic devices, including ultra-fast dynamics, zero stray fields and insensitivity to external magnetic fields1. Tetragonal CuMnAs is a testbed system in which the antiferromagnetic order parameter can be switched reversibly at ambient conditions using electrical currents2. In previous experiments, orthogonal in-plane current pulses were used to induce 90° rotations of antiferromagnetic domains and demonstrate the operation of all-electrical memory bits in a multi-terminal geometry3. Here, we demonstrate that antiferromagnetic domain walls can be manipulated to realize stable and reproducible domain changes using only two electrical contacts. This is achieved by using the polarity of the current to switch the sign of the current-induced effective field acting on the antiferromagnetic sublattices. The resulting reversible domain and domain wall reconfigurations are imaged using X-ray magnetic linear dichroism microscopy, and can also be detected electrically. Switching by domain-wall motion can occur at much lower current densities than those needed for coherent domain switching.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Fig. 1: Concept of antiferromagnetic domain-wall motion and device structure.
Fig. 2: Antiferromagnetic domain switching by current-induced domain-wall motion.
Fig. 3: Dependence on the direction of the current pulse.
Fig. 4: Electrical detection of current-induced switching.

References

  1. 1.

    Jungwirth, T., Marti, X., Wadley, P. & Wunderlich, J. Antiferromagnetic spintronics. Nat. Nanotech. 11, 231–241 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2.

    Wadley, P. et al. Electrical switching of an antiferromagnet. Science 351, 587–590 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3.

    Olejník, K. et al. Antiferromagnetic CuMnAs multi-level memory cell with microelectronic compatibility. Nat. Commun. 8, 15434 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4.

    Parkin, S. S. P., Hayashi, M. & Thomas, L. Magnetic domain-wall racetrack memory. Science 320, 190–194 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5.

    Zhang, X., Liu, Q., Luo, J.-W., Freeman, A. J. & Zunger, A. Hidden spin polarization in inversion-symmetric bulk crystals. Nat. Phys. 10, 387–393 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6.

    Železný, J. et al. Relativistic Néel-order fields induced by electrical current in antiferromagnets. Phys. Rev. Lett. 113, 157201 (2014).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7.

    Wadley, P. et al. Tetragonal phase of epitaxial room-temperature antiferromagnet CuMnAs. Nat. Commun. 4, 2322 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8.

    Grzybowski, M. J. et al. Imaging current-induced switching of antiferromagnetic domains in CuMnAs. Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 057701 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9.

    Bodnar, S. Yu. et al. Writing and reading antiferromagnetic Mn2Au: Néel spin–orbit torques and large anisotropic magnetoresistance.Nat. Commun. 9, 348 (2018).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10.

    Meinert, M., Graulich, D. & Matalla-Wagner, T. Key role of thermal activation in the electrical switching of antiferromagnetic Mn2Au. Preprint at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1706.06983 (2017).

  11. 11.

    Olejnik, K. et al. THz electrical writing speed in an antiferromagnetic memory. Science Advances (in the press); https://arxiv.org/abs/1711.08444.

  12. 12.

    Gomonay, O., Jungwirth, T. & Sinova, J. High antiferromagnetic domain wall velocity induced by Néel spin-orbit torques. Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 017202 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13.

    Roy, P. E., Otxoa, R. M. & Wunderlich, J. Robust picosecond writing of a layered antiferromagnet by staggered spin-orbit fields. Phys. Rev. B 94, 014439 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14.

    Wadley, P. et al. Antiferromagnetic structure in tetragonal CuMnAs thin films. Sci. Rep. 5, 17079 (2015).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15.

    Shiino, T. et al Antiferromagnetic domain wall motion driven by spin–orbit torques. Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 087203 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16.

    Selzer, S., Atxitia, U., Ritzmann, U., Hinzke, D. & Nowak, U. Inertia-free thermally driven domain-wall motion in antiferromagnets. Phys. Rev. Lett. 117, 107201 (2016).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17.

    van der Laan, G., Telling, N. D., Potenza, A., Dhesi, S. S. & Arenholz, E. Anisotropic X-ray magnetic linear dichroism and spectromicroscopy of interfacial Co/NiO(001). Phys. Rev. B 83, 064409 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18.

    Wadley, P. et al. Control of antiferromagnetic spin axis orientation in bilayer Fe/CuMnAs films. Sci. Rep. 7, 11147 (2017).

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the Diamond Light Source for the allocation of beam time under Proposal no. SI16376-1. This work was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (grant number EP/P019749/1), National Science Centre, Poland (grant 2016/21/N/ST3/03380), the Ministry of Education of the Czech Republic Grants no. LM2015087 and no. LNSM-LNSpin, the Czech National Science Foundation Grant no. 14-37427, the EU FET Open RIA Grant no. 766566 and the ERC Synergy Grant no. 610115. P.W. acknowledges support from the Royal Society through a University Research Fellowship.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Contributions

P.W., K.W.E., B.L.G., J.W. and T.J. were responsible for the experimental concept and design. K.W.E. and P.W provided experimental coordination of the project. R.P.C. and V.N. performed the material growth. J.S.C., P.W. and C.A. provided device design and photolithography of devices. S.R., M.J.G., K.W.E, P.W., F.M. and S.S.D. performed XMLD-PEEM measurements and analysis of results. S.R. performed electrical transport measurements and analysis. M.W. supplied magnetometry measurements of the materials. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the results and writing of the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Peter Wadley.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Additional information

Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–4; Supplementary Text; Supplementary References.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Wadley, P., Reimers, S., Grzybowski, M.J. et al. Current polarity-dependent manipulation of antiferromagnetic domains. Nature Nanotech 13, 362–365 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-018-0079-1

Download citation

Further reading