A Breakthrough in Current-Induced Switching

Magnetic force microscope image of 30 nm thick thulium
iron garnet (Tm3Fe5O12, TmIG). Light color = up-spin,
dark color = down-spin.

(12/12/2016) - A new paper from C-SPIN’s Geoffrey Beach (MIT) and Caroline Ross (MIT) reports the first instance of current-induced switching in a magnetic insulator.

The article, which appeared online in Nature Materials, describes current driven through a Pt overlayer switching a perpendicularly magnetized thulium iron garnet film through spin-orbit torque.

Switching the magnetic state of thin films electrically – rather than magnetically – is crucial for low-power spin logic and spin memory. Just as important, however, is the simple proof-of-concept. If electricity can be used to read and write on one magnetic insulator, many others may exist that switch faster or with even less energy. According to Caroline Ross, “This discovery opens another door for research into spintronic replacements for high-energy CMOS components.”

The same demonstration was done on another perpendicular material system, Pt/BaM, by C-SPIN PI Mingzhong Wu. His results were published in Nature Communications in September 2016.

Read the full paper at Nature Materials HERE.