Direct Imaging of Current-Induced Antiferromagnetic Switching Revealing a Pure Thermomagnetoelastic Switching Mechanism in NiO

Hendrik Meer, Felix Schreiber, Christin Schmitt, Rafael Ramos, Eiji Saitoh, Olena Gomonay, Jairo Sinova, Lorenzo Baldrati, Mathias Kläui

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


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 noncontact mechanism can explain the previously reported contradicting observations of the switching final state, which were attributed to spin-orbit torque mechanisms.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-119
Number of pages6
JournalNano Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 11 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2021-02-09
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): OSR-2019-CRG8-4048
Acknowledgements: The authors thank T. Reimer for skillful technical assistance. L.B. acknowledges the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Grant Agreement ARTES No. 793159. L.B. and M.K. acknowledge support from the Graduate School of Excellence Materials Science in Mainz (MAINZ) DFG 266, the DAAD (Spintronics network, Project No. 57334897 and Insulator Spin–Orbitronics, Project No. 57524834), and all groups from Mainz acknowledge that this work was funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation), TRR 173-268565370 (Project Nos. A01, A03, A11, B02, and B12) and KAUST (OSR-2019-CRG8-4048). O.G. additionally acknowledges financial support from DFG (Project SHARP 397322108). J.S. additionally acknowledges the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and O.G and J.S. acknowledge the EU FET Open RIA Grant No. 766566. R.R. also acknowledges support from the European Commission through the Project 734187-SPICOLOST (H2020-MSCA-RISE-2016), the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program through the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions Grant Agreement SPEC No. 894006 and the Spanish Ministry of Science (RYC 2019-026915-I). M.K. acknowledges financial support from the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Commission under FET-Open Grant Agreement No. 863155 (s-Nebula). This work was also supported by ERATO “Spin Quantum Rectification Project” (Grant No. JPMJER1402) and the Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Area, “Nano Spin Conversion Science” (Grant No. JP26103005), Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (S) (Grant No. JP19H05600), Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C) (Grant No. JP20K05297) from JSPS KAKENHI, Japan.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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