Giant anisotropic magneto-resistance in ferromagnetic atomic contacts
Magneto-resistance is a physical effect of great fundamental and industrial interest since it is the basis for the magnetic field sensors used in computer read-heads and Magnetic Random Access Memories. As dimensions are reduced below some important length scales for magnetism and electrical transport, there is a strong need to know if the physical phenomena responsible for magneto-resistance still hold at the atomic scale. Here, we show that the anisotropy of magneto-resistance is greatly enhanced in atomic size constrictions. We explain this physical effect by a change in the electronic density of states in the junction when the magnetisation is rotated, as supported by our ab-initio and tight binding calculations. This stems from the “spin-orbit coupling" mechanism linking the shape of the orbitals with the spin direction. This sensitively affects the conductance of atomic contacts which is determined by the overlap of the valence orbitals.
PACS.75.70.Kw Domain structure
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