Spintronics relies on the transport of spins, the intrinsic angular momentum of electrons, as an alternative to the transport of electron charge as in conventional electronics. The long-term goal of spintronics research is to develop spin-based, low-dissipation computing-technology devices. Recently, long-distance transport of a spin current was demonstrated across ferromagnetic insulators1. However, antiferromagnetically ordered materials, the most common class of magnetic materials, have several crucial advantages over ferromagnetic systems for spintronics applications2: antiferromagnets have no net magnetic moment, making them stable and impervious to external fields, and can be operated at terahertz-scale frequencies3. Although the properties of antiferromagnets are desirable for spin transport4,5,6,7, indirect observations of such transport indicate that spin transmission through antiferromagnets is limited to only a few nanometres8,9,10. Here we demonstrate long-distance propagation of spin currents through a single crystal of the antiferromagnetic insulator haematite (α-Fe2O3)11, the most common antiferromagnetic iron oxide, by exploiting the spin Hall effect for spin injection. We control the flow of spin current across a haematite–platinum interface—at which spins accumulate, generating the spin current—by tuning the antiferromagnetic resonance frequency using an external magnetic field12. We find that this simple antiferromagnetic insulator conveys spin information parallel to the antiferromagnetic Néel order over distances of more than tens of micrometres. This mechanism transports spins as efficiently as the most promising complex ferromagnets1. Our results pave the way to electrically tunable, ultrafast, low-power, antiferromagnetic-insulator-based spin-logic devices6,13 that operate without magnetic fields at room temperature.
Access optionsAccess options
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding authors on reasonable request.
Publisher’s note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
R.L. acknowledges the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement FAST number 752195. A.R., J.C. and M.K. acknowledge support from the Graduate School of Excellence Materials Science in Mainz (DFG/GSC 266). All authors from Mainz also acknowledge support from both MaHoJeRo (DAAD Spintronics network, project number 57334897) and SPIN+X (DFG SFB TRR 173). A.Q. and A.B. acknowledge support from the European Research Council via Advanced Grant number 669442 ‘Insulatronics’. S.A.B. and R.A.D. acknowledge support from Stichting voor Fundamenteel Onderzoek der Materie (FOM) and the European Research Council via Consolidator Grant number 725509 ‘SPINBEYOND’. A.Q., R.A.D., M.K. and A.B. were supported by the Research Council of Norway through its Centres of Excellence funding scheme, project number 262633 ‘QuSpin’.
Nature thanks T. Dietl, L. Morellón and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Extended data figures and tables
About this article