Spin Seebeck Imaging of Spin-Torque Switching in Antiferromagnetic Pt/NiO Heterostructures
As electrical control of Neél order opens the door to reliable antiferromagnetic spintronic devices, understanding the microscopic mechanisms of antiferromagnetic switching is crucial. Spatially resolved studies are necessary to distinguish multiple nonuniform switching mechanisms; however, progress has been hindered by the lack of tabletop techniques to image the Neél order. We demonstrate spin Seebeck microscopy as a sensitive tabletop method for imaging antiferromagnetism in thin films and apply this technique to study spin-torque switching in Pt/NiO and Pt/NiO/Pt heterostructures. We establish the interfacial antiferromagnetic spin Seebeck effect in NiO as a probe of surface Neél order. By imaging before and after applying current-induced spin torque, we resolve spin domain rotation and domain wall motion. We correlate the changes in spin Seebeck images with electrical measurements of the average Neél orientation through the spin Hall magnetoresistance, confirming that we image antiferromagnetic order. © 2019 authors. Published by the American Physical Society. Published by the American Physical Society under the terms of the "https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/" Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. Further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the published article's title, journal citation, and DOI.