Current-induced spin-orbit torques (SOTs) are of interest for fast and energy-efficient manipulation of magnetic order in spintronic devices. To be deterministic, however, switching of perpendicularly magnetized materials by SOT requires a mechanism for in-plane symmetry breaking. Existing methods to do so involve the application of an in-plane bias magnetic field, or incorporation of in-plane structural asymmetry in the device, both of which can be difficult to implement in practical applications. Here, we report bias-field-free SOT switching in a single perpendicular CoTb layer with an engineered vertical composition gradient. The vertical structural inversion asymmetry induces strong intrinsic SOTs and a gradient-driven Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction (g-DMI), which breaks the in-plane symmetry during the switching process. Micromagnetic simulations are in agreement with experimental results, and elucidate the role of g-DMI in the deterministic switching processes. This bias-field-free switching scheme for perpendicular ferrimagnets with g-DMI provides a strategy for efficient and compact SOT device design.
The interfacial Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction (DMI) holds promises for design and control of chiral spin textures in low-dimensional magnets with efficient current-driven dynamics. Recently, an interlayer DMI has been found to exist across magnetic multilayers with a heavy-metal spacer between magnetic layers. This opens the possibility of chirality in these three-dimensional magnetic structures. Here we show the existence of the interlayer DMI in a synthetic antiferromagnetic multilayer with both inversion and in-plane asymmetry. We analyse the interlayer DMI’s effects on the magnetization and the current-induced spin-orbit torque (SOT) switching of magnetization through a combination of experimental and numerical studies. The chiral nature of the interlayer DMI leads to an asymmetric SOT switching of magnetization under an in-plane magnetic field. Our work paves the way for further explorations on controlling chiral magnetizations across magnetic multilayers through SOTs, which can provide a new path in the design of SOT devices.
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- Communications Physics
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- National Science Foundation
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Field-free spin-orbit torque-induced switching of perpendicular magnetization in a ferrimagnetic layer with a vertical composition gradient
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