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21 January 2020

Interfacial Spin-Orbit Coupling: A Platform for Superconducting Spintronics

Article: published in Physical Review Applied by Farkhad Aliev, IFIMAC researcher and member of the Condensed Matter Physics Department.

Spin-orbit coupling (SOC) is a key interaction in spintronics, allowing an electrical control of spin or magnetization and, vice versa, a magnetic control of electrical current. However, recent advances have revealed much broader implications of SOC that is also central to the design of topological states, including topological insulators, skyrmions, and Majorana fermions. SOC and the resulting emergent interfacial spin-orbit fields are simply realized in junctions through structural inversion asymmetry, while the anisotropy in magnetoresistance (MR) allows for their experimental detection. Surprisingly, we demonstrate that an all-epitaxial ferromagnet/ MgO/metal junction with only a negligible MR anisotropy undergoes a remarkable transformation below the superconducting transition temperature of the metal. The superconducting junction has a three orders of magnitude higher MR anisotropy and supports the formation of spin-triplet superconductivity, crucial for superconducting spintronics, and topologically-protected quantum computing. Our findings call for revisiting the role of SOC in other systems which, even when it seems negligible in the normal state, could have a profound influence on the superconducting response. [Full article]

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