Strain control magnetocrystalline anisotropy of Ta/FeCo/MgO heterostructures

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Using ab initio electronic structure calculations, we have investigated the effect of epitaxial strain on magnetocrystalline anisotropy (MCA) of Ta/FeCo/MgO heterostructure. At small expansive strains on the FeCo layer, the system exhibits perpendicular MCA (PMA). Strain not only has a profound effect on the value of MCA but also induces a switching of magnetic easy axis. Analysis of the energy- and k-resolved distribution of orbital characters of the minority-spin band reveals that a significant contribution to PMA at zero strain arises from the spin-orbit coupling between occupied dx2-y2 and unoccupied dxy states, derived from Fe at the FeCo/MgO interface. The strain effect is attributed to strain-induced shifts of spin-orbit coupled d-states. Our work demonstrates that strain engineering can open a viable pathway towards tailoring magnetic properties for spintronic applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17B518
JournalJournal of Applied Physics
Issue number17
StatePublished - May 7 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Physics and Astronomy


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