Magnetic Moments and Electron Transport through Chromium-Based Antiferromagnetic Nanojunctions

Materials (Basel). 2018 Oct 18;11(10):2030. doi: 10.3390/ma11102030.


We report the electronic, magnetic and transport properties of a prototypical antiferromagnetic (AFM) spintronic device. We chose Cr as the active layer because it is the only room-temperature AFM elemental metal. We sandwiched Cr between two non-magnetic metals (Pt or Au) with large spin-orbit coupling. We also inserted a buffer layer of insulating MgO to mimic the structure and finite resistivity of a real device. We found that, while spin-orbit has a negligible effect on the current flowing through the device, the MgO layer plays a crucial role. Its effect is to decouple the Cr magnetic moment from Pt (or Au) and to develop an overall spin magnetization. We have also calculated the spin-polarized ballistic conductance of the device within the Büttiker⁻Landauer framework, and we have found that for small applied bias our Pt/Cr/MgO/Pt device presents a spin polarization of the current amounting to ≃25%.

Keywords: DFT; ab initio calculations; antiferromagnetism; electronic transport; spintronics.