Relativistic Néel-order fields induced by electrical current in antiferromagnets

Phys Rev Lett. 2014 Oct 10;113(15):157201. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.157201. Epub 2014 Oct 6.


We predict that a lateral electrical current in antiferromagnets can induce nonequilibrium Néel-order fields, i.e., fields whose sign alternates between the spin sublattices, which can trigger ultrafast spin-axis reorientation. Based on microscopic transport theory calculations we identify staggered current-induced fields analogous to the intraband and to the intrinsic interband spin-orbit fields previously reported in ferromagnets with a broken inversion-symmetry crystal. To illustrate their rich physics and utility, we consider bulk Mn(2)Au with the two spin sublattices forming inversion partners, and a 2D square-lattice antiferromagnet with broken structural inversion symmetry modeled by a Rashba spin-orbit coupling. We propose an antiferromagnetic memory device with electrical writing and reading.