Impact of inherent energy barrier on spin-orbit torques in magnetic-metal/semimetal heterojunctions

Tenghua Gao, Alireza Qaiumzadeh, Roberto E. Troncoso, Satoshi Haku, Hongyu An, Hiroki Nakayama, Yuya Tazaki, Song Zhang, Rong Tu, Akio Asami, Arne Brataas, Kazuya Ando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spintronic devices are based on heterojunctions of two materials with different magnetic and electronic properties. Although an energy barrier is naturally formed even at the interface of metallic heterojunctions, its impact on spin transport has been overlooked. Here, using diffusive spin Hall currents, we provide evidence that the inherent energy barrier governs the spin transport even in metallic systems. We find a sizable field-like torque, much larger than the damping-like counterpart, in Ni81Fe19/Bi0.1Sb0.9 bilayers. This is a distinct signature of barrier-mediated spin-orbit torques, which is consistent with our theory that predicts a strong modification of the spin mixing conductance induced by the energy barrier. Our results suggest that the spin mixing conductance and the corresponding spin-orbit torques are strongly altered by minimizing the work function difference in the heterostructure. These findings provide a new mechanism to control spin transport and spin torque phenomena by interfacial engineering of metallic heterostructures.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5187
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2023


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