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Title: Excitation of picosecond magnetisation dynamics by spin transfer torque
Author: Spicer, Timothy Michael
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6741
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis presents the results from investigations of ultrafast magnetisation dynamics driven by pure spin currents. Spin orbit coupling in heavy metal layers - such as tungsten, tantalum or platinum - allows for the generation of pure spin currents, whereby spin up and spin down electrons move in opposite directions. Hence, a flow of angular momentum can be controlled through the manipulation of charge current through a heavy metal layer. When a spin current is injected into a ferromagnet, a torque is exerted on its magnetisation, with the potential to induce a wide variety of ultrafast dynamics. The experimental investigation of these phenomena employed a variety of high-frequency electrical techniques and time-resolved scanning Kerr microscopy (TRSKM) methods. In addition, various simulative and analytical approaches were used to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms. Spin Hall nano-oscillators (SHNOs) have recently been shown to support a tunable GHz spin wave `bullet’ under injection of direct current (DC), making it an exciting candidate for microwave communication applications. This thesis will show how TRKSM can be used to measure the torques within these devices, revealing that radio frequency (RF) current does not possess the same distribution as the DC. The competition between self-inductance and focusing within the device geometry results in a modified distribution of spin current. Further TRSKM measurements show the modified torque landscape to promote the mobility of the `bullet' within the magnetic layer. Devices that exploit spin currents for magnetisation reversal have received interest from academia and industry for their potential use as memory elements. The perpendicular magnetic anisotropy present in Ta/CoFeB/MgO leads to lower write currents and higher thermal stability. However, ultrafast processes have not been previously observed in such devices. TRSKM measurements of Hall bar devices were compared with a macrospin model to understand the underlying torques, and to investigate the conditions required to promote switching. Square elements built from the same stack structure exhibited contrasting static and dynamic behaviour. Pulsed currents drove differing dynamics at the edge and center of the device, while enabling the realignment of magnetic domains. The domains themselves could be driven directly by the spin current leading to domain wall dynamics. Measurements with a bipolar electrical pulse demonstrated that meta-stable switching can be achieved in micron-scale elements.
Supervisor: Hicken, Rob Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Spintronics ; Magnetism ; Dynamics ; Spin Current