Tunnel-mediated coupling between antiferromagnetic thin films

Abstract : The study, tailoring, and control of the coupling between magnetic layers triggered the development of spintronics and has been up to now focused on systems comprising at least one ferromagnetic layer. Here we present a system where two antiferromagnetic layers separated by an ultrathin tunnel barrier interact with each other. We have studied with neutron and x-ray diffraction two sets of Cr/MgO/Cr trilayers, with either thin (five monolayers or less) or thick (eight monolayers or more) MgO layers, along with isolated Cr layers used as references. While the behavior of the trilayers with thick MgO layers can be explained by the strain state of each layer, that of trilayers with thin barriers cannot be related to the well known behavior of isolated chromium layers. We indeed report in these samples the presence of anomalous magnetic phases (modified propagation vector, direction of spins and propagation vectors inconsistent with the strain state of the sample) that we ascribe to the existence of a tunnel magnetic coupling between the AF layers through the insulating barrier. This unexpected finding opens opportunities for spintronics using solely antiferromagnets.
Keywords : number(s): 7530Fv
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Physical Review B : Condensed matter and materials physics, American Physical Society, 2014, 90 (90), pp.035432. 〈10.1103/PhysRevB.90.035432〉
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Marie-Alix Leroy, Alexandre Bataille, Brahim Dkhil, Florence Porcher, Antoine Barbier, et al.. Tunnel-mediated coupling between antiferromagnetic thin films. Physical Review B : Condensed matter and materials physics, American Physical Society, 2014, 90 (90), pp.035432. 〈10.1103/PhysRevB.90.035432〉. 〈hal-01245466〉

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