Oscillatory magnetic anisotropy and spin-reorientation induced by heavy-metal cap in Cu/FeCo/ M (M= Hf or Ta): A first-principles study

P. V. Ong, Nicholas Kioussis, P. Khalili Amiri, K. L. Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Using ab initio electronic structure calculations we have investigated the effect of the thickness of a heavy-metal (HM) cap on the magnetic anisotropy of the Cu/FeCo/HM(n) thin film where HM = Hf and Ta with thicknesses of n=0-10 monolayers (MLs). We find that the Hf cap results in a large perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA), which exhibits quasiperiodic oscillation with a period of two MLs. In contrast, the Ta-capped heterostructure exhibits a spin reorientation from out-of-plane to in-plane magnetization orientation at two MLs of Ta. Moreover, the MA remains negative and depends weakly on the Ta-cap thickness beyond the critical thickness. The underlying mechanism of the PMA oscillation is the periodic change in spin-flip spin-orbit coupling between the minority-spin Fe d(xz,yz) and majority Fe d(z2) at Γ, which is induced by the hybridization with Hf at the FeCo/Hf interface. Our results help resolve the contradictory experiments regarding the role of the FeCo/Ta interface on the PMA of the MgO/FeCo/Ta junction. The calculations reveal that the ferromagnet/Hf is promising for spintronic applications and that the capping material and thickness are additional parameters for optimizing the functional properties of spintronic devices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number174404
JournalPhysical Review B
Volume94
Issue number17
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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