Theory of spin torque due to spin-orbit coupling

A. Manchon*, S. Zhang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

401 Scopus citations


The combined effect of spin-orbit coupling and exchange interaction in a single ferromagnetic layer is investigated. It is shown that, in nonequilibrium regime, the spin-orbit interaction (SOI) gives rise to a transverse spin density that exerts a torque on the local magnetization. The spin torque depends on the symmetry properties of the SOI. For the inversion-symmetry-preserved SOI such as the impurity SOI and the Luttinger spin-orbit band, the spin torque is a high-order effect too small to lead to a reasonable critical switching current density. For the inversion-symmetry-broken SOI, e.g., Rashba and Dresselhaus SOIs, the torque is on the first order of the SOI parameter and can be effectively used to control the magnetization direction using critical switching current densities as low as 104 â€" 106 †A/ cm2. We also address the relation between the spin torque and the anisotropic magnetoresistance. Finally, a number of systems are proposed for the experimental observation of the SOI-induced torque.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number094422
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 3 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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