Research Article

Spin-Torque Switching with the Giant Spin Hall Effect of Tantalum

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Science  04 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6081, pp. 555-558
DOI: 10.1126/science.1218197

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Spin currents can apply useful torques in spintronic devices. The spin Hall effect has been proposed as a source of spin current, but its modest strength has limited its usefulness. We report a giant spin Hall effect (SHE) in β-tantalum that generates spin currents intense enough to induce efficient spin-torque switching of ferromagnets at room temperature. We quantify this SHE by three independent methods and demonstrate spin-torque switching of both out-of-plane and in-plane magnetized layers. We furthermore implement a three-terminal device that uses current passing through a tantalum-ferromagnet bilayer to switch a nanomagnet, with a magnetic tunnel junction for read-out. This simple, reliable, and efficient design may eliminate the main obstacles to the development of magnetic memory and nonvolatile spin logic technologies.

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