Spin-orbit torques (SOT) enable efficient electrical control of the magnetic state of ferromagnets, ferrimagnets and antiferromagnets. However, the conventional SOT has severe limitation that only in-plane spins accumulate near the surface, whether interpreted as a spin Hall effect (SHE) or as an Edelstein effect. Such a SOT is not suitable for controlling perpendicular magnetization, which would be more beneficial for realizing low-power-consumption memory devices. Here we report the observation of a giant magnetic-field-like SOT in a topological antiferromagnet Mn3Sn, whose direction and size can be tuned by changing the order parameter direction of the antiferromagnet. To understand the magnetic SHE (MSHE)- and the conventional SHE-induced SOTs on an equal footing, we formulate them as interface spin-electric-field responses and analyzed using a macroscopic symmetry analysis and a complementary microscopic quantum kinetic theory. In this framework, the large out-of-plane spin accumulation due to the MSHE has an inter-band origin and is likely to be caused by the large momentum-dependent spin splitting in Mn3Sn. Our work demonstrates the unique potential of antiferromagnetic Weyl semimetals in overcoming the limitations of conventional SOTs and in realizing low-power spintronics devices with new functionalities.
Three-dimensional topological insulators have been demonstrated in recent years, which possess intriguing gapless, spin-polarized Dirac states with linear dispersion only on the surface. The spin polarization of the topological surface states is also locked to its momentum, which allows controlling motion of electrons using optical helicity, i.e., circularly polarized light. The electrical and thermal transport can also be significantly tuned by the helicity-control of surface state electrons. Here, we report studies of photo-thermoelectric effect of the topological surface states in Bi2Te2Se thin films with large tunability using varied gate voltages and optical helicity. The Seebeck coefficient can be altered by more than five times compared to the case without spin injection. This deep tuning is originated from the optical helicity-induced photocurrent which is shown to be enhanced, reduced, turned off, and even inverted due to the change of the accessed band structures by electrical gating. The helicity-selected topological surface state thus has a large effect on thermoelectric transport, demonstrating great opportunities for realizing helicity control of optoelectronic and thermal devices.
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- Scientific Reports
- Nature Publishing Group
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- National Science Foundation
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