Magnetization switching by magnon-mediated spin torque through an antiferromagnetic insulator

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Science  29 Nov 2019:
Vol. 366, Issue 6469, pp. 1125-1128
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav8076

Toward magnonic devices

The field of magnonics aims to use spin waves (SWs) and their associated quasiparticles—magnons—as carriers of information. Compared with the movement of charge in conventional electronics, a major advantage of SWs is reduced Joule heating. However, SWs are trickier to direct and control. Two groups now go a step further toward magnon-based devices. Han et al. show that in multilayer films, domain walls can be used to change the phase and magnitude of a spin wave. Wang et al. demonstrate how magnon currents can be used to switch the magnetization of an adjacent layer.

Science, this issue p. 1121, p. 1125


Widespread applications of magnetic devices require an efficient means to manipulate the local magnetization. One mechanism is the electrical spin-transfer torque associated with electron-mediated spin currents; however, this suffers from substantial energy dissipation caused by Joule heating. We experimentally demonstrated an alternative approach based on magnon currents and achieved magnon-torque–induced magnetization switching in Bi2Se3/antiferromagnetic insulator NiO/ferromagnet devices at room temperature. The magnon currents carry spin angular momentum efficiently without involving moving electrons through a 25-nanometer-thick NiO layer. The magnon torque is sufficient to control the magnetization, which is comparable with previously observed electrical spin torque ratios. This research, which is relevant to the energy-efficient control of spintronic devices, will invigorate magnon-based memory and logic devices.

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