Antiferromagnets are magnetically ordered materials without a macroscopic magnetization. As a result, they could be of use in the development of memory devices because data cannot be erased by external magnetic fields. However, this also makes it difficult to electrically control their magnetic order (Néel vector). Here, we show that pillars of antiferromagnetic PtMn, which are grown on a heavy-metal layer and have diameters down to 800 nm, can be reversibly switched between different magnetic states by electric currents. The devices are based on materials that are typically used in the magnetic memory industry, and we observe switching down to a current density of ~2 MA cm−2. Furthermore, by varying the amplitude of the writing current, multilevel memory characteristics can be achieved. Micromagnetic simulations suggest that the different magnetic states may consist of domains separated by domain walls with vortex and anti-vortex textures that move in response to current, modifying the average Néel vector.
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This work was supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation, Division of Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems (NSF ECCS-1853879), and in part by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR FA9550-15-1-0377). This work also utilized the Northwestern University Micro/Nano Fabrication Facility (NUFAB), which is partially supported by the Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental (SHyNE) Resource (NSF ECCS-1542205), the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (DMR-1720139), the State of Illinois and Northwestern University. For part of the sample fabrication, use of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, an Office of Science user facility, was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under contract no. DE-AC02-06CH11357. G.F. and F.G. also acknowledge support from PETASPIN.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Shi, J., Lopez-Dominguez, V., Garesci, F. et al. Electrical manipulation of the magnetic order in antiferromagnetic PtMn pillars. Nat Electron 3, 92–98 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41928-020-0367-2
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