Anisotropy and Current Control of Magnetization in SrRuO3/SrTiO3 Heterostructures for Spin-Memristors

May, 2021


Spintronics-based nonvolatile components in neuromorphic circuits offer the possibility of realizing novel functionalities at low power. Current-controlled electrical switching of magnetization is actively researched in this context. Complex oxide heterostructures with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy (PMA), consisting of SrRuO3 (SRO) grown on SrTiO3 (STO) are strong material contenders. Utilizing the crystal orientation, magnetic anisotropy in such simple heterostructures can be tuned to either exhibit a perfect or slightly tilted PMA. Here, we investigate current induced magnetization modulation in such tailored ferromagnetic layers with a material with strong spin-orbit coupling (Pt), exploiting the spin Hall effect. We find significant differences in the magnetic anisotropy between the SRO/STO heterostructures, as manifested in the first and second harmonic magnetoresistance measurements. Current-induced magnetization switching can be realized with spin-orbit torques, but for systems with perfect PMA this switching is probabilistic as a result of the high symmetry. Slight tilting of the PMA can break this symmetry and allow the realization of deterministic switching. Control over the magnetic anisotropy of our heterostructures therefore provides control over the manner of switching. Based on our findings, we propose a three-terminal spintronic memristor, with a magnetic tunnel junction design, that shows several resistive states controlled by electric charge. Non-volatile states can be written through SOT by applying an in-plane current, and read out as a tunnel current by applying a small out-of-plane current. Depending on the anisotropy of the SRO layer, the writing mechanism is either deterministic or probabilistic allowing for different functionalities to emerge. We envisage that the probabilistic MTJs could be used as synapses while the deterministic devices can emulate neurons.

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