7. Direct imaging of current-induced antiferromagnetic switching revealing a pure thermomagnetoelastic switching mechanism

Authors: H. Meer, F. Schreiber, C. Schmitt, R. Ramos, E. Saitoh, O. Gomonay, J. Sinova, L. Baldrati, M. Kläui

Published: Wed, 12 Aug 2020

arXiv link
Data Set (Zenodo link)


We unravel the origin of current-induced magnetic switching of insulating antiferromagnet/heavy metal systems. We utilize concurrent transport and magneto-optical measurements to image the switching of antiferromagnetic domains in specially engineered devices of NiO/Pt bilayers. Different electrical pulsing and device geometries reveal different final states of the switching with respect to the current direction. We can explain these through simulations of the temperature induced strain and we identify the thermomagnetoelastic switching mechanism combined with thermal excitations as the origin, in which the final state is defined by the strain distributions and heat is required to switch the antiferromagnetic domains. We show that such a potentially very versatile non-contact mechanism can explain the previously reported contradicting observations of the switching final state, which were attributed to spin-orbit torque mechanisms.

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