Electric field control of magnetization direction across the antiferromagnetic to ferromagnetic transition
Electric-field-induced magnetic switching can lead to a new paradigm of ultra-low power nonvolatile magnetoelectric random access memory (MeRAM). To date the realization of MeRAM relies primarily on ferromagnetic (FM) based heterostructures which exhibit low voltage-controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA) efficiency. On the other hand, manipulation of magnetism in antiferromagnetic (AFM) based nanojunctions by purely electric field means (rather than E-field induced strain) remains unexplored thus far. Ab initio electronic structure calculations reveal that the VCMA of ultrathin FeRh/MgO bilayers exhibits distinct linear or nonlinear behavior across the AFM to FM metamagnetic transition depending on the Fe- or Rh-interface termination. We predict that the AFM Fe-terminated phase undergoes an E-field magnetization switching with large VCMA efficiency and a spin reorientation across the metamagnetic transition. In sharp contrast, while the Rh-terminated interface exhibits large out-of-plane (in-plane) MA in the FM (AFM) phase, its magnetization is more rigid to external E-field. These findings demonstrate that manipulation of the AFM Néel-order magnetization direction via purely E-field means can pave the way toward ultra-low energy AFM-based MeRAM devices. © 2017 The Author(s).
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