Current-induced spin-orbit torques

Pietro Gambardella, Ioan Mihai Miron

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

230 Citations (Scopus)


The ability to reverse the magnetization of nanomagnets by current injection has attracted increased attention ever since the spin-transfer torque mechanism was predicted in 1996. In this paper, we review the basic theoretical and experimental arguments supporting a novel current-induced spin torque mechanism taking place in ferromagnetic (FM) materials. This effect, hereafter named spin-orbit (SO) torque, is produced by the flow of an electric current in a crystalline structure lacking inversion symmetry, which transfers orbital angular momentum from the lattice to the spin system owing to the combined action of So and exchange coupling. So torques are found to be prominent in both FM metal and semiconducting systems, allowing for great flexibility in adjusting their orientation and magnitude by proper material engineering. Further directions of research in this field are briefly outlined. © 2011 The Royal Society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3175-3197
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Issue number1948
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2011


  • Dresselhaus effect
  • Rashba effect
  • Spin torque
  • Spin-orbit coupling
  • Spintronics


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