Direct optical detection of current induced spin accumulation in metals by magnetization-induced second harmonic generation

Abstract : Strong spin-orbit coupling in non-magnetic heavy metals has been shown to lead to large spin currents flowing transverse to a charge current in such a metal wire. This in turn leads to the buildup of a net spin accumulation at the lateral surfaces of the wire. Spin-orbit torque effects enable the use of the accumulated spins to exert useful magnetic torques on adjacent magnetic layers in spintronic devices. We report the direct detection of spin accumulation at the free surface of nonmagnetic metal films using magnetization-induced optical surface second harmonic generation. The technique is applied to probe the current induced surface spin accumulation in various heavy metals such as Pt, β-Ta, and Au with high sensitivity. The sensitivity of the technique enables us to measure the time dynamics on a sub-ns time scale of the spin accumulation arising from a short current pulse. The ability of optical surface second harmonic generation to probe interfaces suggests that this technique will also be useful for studying the dynamics of spin accumulation and transport across interfaces between non-magnetic and ferromagnetic materials, where spin-orbit torque effects are of considerable interest.
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A. Pattabi, Z. Gu, J. Gorchon, Y. Yang, J. Finley, et al.. Direct optical detection of current induced spin accumulation in metals by magnetization-induced second harmonic generation. Applied Physics Letters, American Institute of Physics, 2015, 107 (15), pp.152404. ⟨10.1063/1.4933094⟩. ⟨hal-02105803⟩

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