Control of Néel vector in Antiferromagnets
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Control of Néel vector in Antiferromagnets


Control of Néel vector in antiferromagnetic materials is one of the challenges preventing their use of as active device components. Several methods have been investigated such as exchange bias, electric field, and spin injection, but little is known about strain-meditated anisotropy. This study of antiferromagnetic L10-type MnX alloys MnIr, MnRh, MnNi, MnPd, and MnPt shows that a small amount of strain effectively rotates the direction of the Néel vector by 90⁰ for all of the materials. For MnIr, MnRh, MnNi, and MnPd, the Néel vector rotates within the basal plane. For MnPt, the Néel vector rotates from out-of-plane to in-plane under tensile strain. The effectiveness of strain control is quantified by a metric of efficiency and by direct calculation of the magnetostriction coefficients. The values of the magnetostriction coefficients are comparable with those from ferromagnetic materials. These results indicate that strain is a mechanism that can be exploited for control of the Néel vectors in this family of antiferromagnets. CrSb is a layered antiferromagnet (AFM) with perpendicular magnetic anisotropy, a high Néel temperature, and large spin-orbit coupling (SOC), which makes it interesting for AFM spintronic applications. To elucidate the various mechanisms of Néel vector control, the effects of strain, band filling, and electric field on the magnetic anisotropy energy (MAE) of bulk and thin-film CrSb are determined and analysed using density functional theory. The MAE of the bulk crystal is large (1.2 meV per unit cell). Due to the significant ionic nature of the Cr-Sb bond, finite slabs are strongly affected by end termination. Truncation of the bulk crystal to a thin film with one surface terminated with Cr and the other surface terminated with Sb breaks inversion symmetry, creates a large charge dipole and average electric field across the film, and breaks spin degeneracy, such that the thin film becomes a ferrimagnet. The MAE is reduced such that its sign can be switched with realistic strain, and the large SOC gives rise to an intrinsic voltage controlled magnetic anisotropy (VCMA). A slab terminated on both faces with Cr remains a compensated AFM, but with the compensation occurring nonlocally between mirror symmetric Cr pairs. In-plane alignment of the moments is preferred, the magnitude of the MAE remains large, similar to that of the bulk, and it is relatively insensitive to filling.

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