Spin-torque generation in topological insulator based heterostructures

Mark H. Fischer, Abolhassan Vaezi, Aurelien Manchon, Eun-Ah Kim

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55 Scopus citations


Heterostructures utilizing topological insulators exhibit a remarkable spin-torque efficiency. However, the exact origin of the strong torque, in particular whether it stems from the spin-momentum locking of the topological surface states or rather from spin-Hall physics of the topological-insulator bulk, remains unclear. Here, we explore a mechanism of spin-torque generation purely based on the topological surface states. We consider topological-insulator-based bilayers involving ferromagnetic metal (TI/FM) and magnetically doped topological insulators (TI/mdTI), respectively. By ascribing the key theoretical differences between the two setups to location and number of active surface states, we describe both setups within the same framework of spin diffusion of the nonequilibrium spin density of the topological surface states. For the TI/FM bilayer, we find large spin-torque efficiencies of roughly equal magnitude for both in-plane and out-of-plane spin torques. For the TI/mdTI bilayer, we elucidate the dominance of the spin-transfer-like torque. However, we cannot explain the orders of magnitude enhancement reported. Nevertheless, our model gives an intuitive picture of spin-torque generation in topological-insulator-based bilayers and provides theoretical constraints on spin-torque generation due to topological surface states.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number12
StatePublished - Mar 11 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: The authors are grateful to A. Mellnik and D. Ralph for
helpful discussions.M.H.F. and E.-A.K. acknowledge support
from NSF Grant No. DMR-0955822 and from NSF Grant No.
DMR-1120296 to the Cornell Center for Materials Research.
M.H.F. further acknowledges the Swiss Society of Friends
of the Weizmann Institute of Science. A.M. was supported
by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology


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