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      Perpendicular switching of a single ferromagnetic layer induced by in-plane current injection.

      Nature

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          Abstract

          Modern computing technology is based on writing, storing and retrieving information encoded as magnetic bits. Although the giant magnetoresistance effect has improved the electrical read out of memory elements, magnetic writing remains the object of major research efforts. Despite several reports of methods to reverse the polarity of nanosized magnets by means of local electric fields and currents, the simple reversal of a high-coercivity, single-layer ferromagnet remains a challenge. Materials with large coercivity and perpendicular magnetic anisotropy represent the mainstay of data storage media, owing to their ability to retain a stable magnetization state over long periods of time and their amenability to miniaturization. However, the same anisotropy properties that make a material attractive for storage also make it hard to write to. Here we demonstrate switching of a perpendicularly magnetized cobalt dot driven by in-plane current injection at room temperature. Our device is composed of a thin cobalt layer with strong perpendicular anisotropy and Rashba interaction induced by asymmetric platinum and AlOx interface layers. The effective switching field is orthogonal to the direction of the magnetization and to the Rashba field. The symmetry of the switching field is consistent with the spin accumulation induced by the Rashba interaction and the spin-dependent mobility observed in non-magnetic semiconductors, as well as with the torque induced by the spin Hall effect in the platinum layer. Our measurements indicate that the switching efficiency increases with the magnetic anisotropy of the cobalt layer and the oxidation of the aluminium layer, which is uppermost, suggesting that the Rashba interaction has a key role in the reversal mechanism. To prove the potential of in-plane current switching for spintronic applications, we construct a reprogrammable magnetic switch that can be integrated into non-volatile memory and logic architectures. This device is simple, scalable and compatible with present-day magnetic recording technology.

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          Author and article information

          Journal
          21804568
          10.1038/nature10309

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