Effect of the oxide layer on current-induced spin-orbit torques in Hf|CoFeB|MgO and Hf|CoFeB|TaOx structures

Mustafa Akyol, Juan G. Alzate, Guoqiang Yu, Pramey Upadhyaya, Kin L. Wong, Ahmet Ekicibil, Pedram Khalili Amiri, Kang L. Wang

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53 Scopus citations


We study the effect of the oxide layer on the current-induced spin-orbit torques (SOTs) in perpendicularly magnetized Hf|CoFeB|MgO (MgO-capped) or Hf|CoFeB|TaOx (TaOx-capped) structures. The effective fields corresponding to both the field-like and damping-like current-induced SOTs are characterized using electric transport measurements. Both torques are found to be significantly stronger in MgO-capped structures than those in TaOx-capped structures. The difference in field-like and damping-like SOTs in the different structures may be attributed to the different Rashba-like Hamiltonian, arising from the difference in the electric potential profiles across the oxide|ferromagnet interfaces in the two cases, as well as possible structural and oxidation differences in the underlying CoFeB and Hf layers. Our results show that the oxide layer in heavy-metal|ferromagnet|oxide trilayer structures has a very significant effect on the generated SOTs for manipulation of ferromagnetic layers. These findings could potentially be used to engineer SOT devices with enhanced current-induced switching efficiency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number032406
JournalApplied Physics Letters
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 19 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)


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