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Current-induced CrI3 surface spin-flop transition probed by proximity magnetoresistance in Pt


By exploiting proximity coupling, we probe the spin state of the surface layers of CrI3, a van der Waals magnetic semiconductor, by measuring the induced magnetoresistance (MR) of Pt in Pt/CrI3 nano-devices. We fabricate the devices with clean and stable interfaces by placing freshly exfoliated CrI3 flake atop pre-patterned thin Pt strip and encapsulating the Pt/CrI3 heterostructure with hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) in a protected environment. In devices consisting of a wide range of CrI3 thicknesses (30-150 nm), we observe that an abrupt upward jump in Pt MR emerge at a 2 T magnetic field applied perpendicularly to the layers when the current density exceeds 2.5 × 1010 A m-2, followed by a gradual decrease over a range of 5 T. These distinct MR features suggest a spin-flop transition which reveals strong antiferromagnetic interlayer coupling in the surface layers of CrI3. We study the current dependence by holding the Pt/CrI3 sample at approximately the same temperature to exclude the joule heating effect, and find that the MR jump increases with the current density, indicating a spin current origin. This spin current effect provides a new route to control spin configurations in insulating antiferromagnets, which is potentially useful for spintronic applications.

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