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Tuning a binary ferromagnet into a multi-state synapse with spin-orbit-torque-induced plasticity

Cao, Yi; Rushforth, Andrew; Sheng, Yu; Zheng, Houzhi; Wang, Kaiyou


Yi Cao

Yu Sheng

Houzhi Zheng

Kaiyou Wang


Ferromagnets with binary states are limited for applications as artificial synapses for neuromorphic computing. Here, it is shown how synaptic plasticity of a perpendicular ferromagnetic layer (FM1) can be obtained when it is interlayer exchange‐coupled by another in‐plane ferromagnetic layer (FM2), where a magnetic field‐free current‐driven multistate magnetization switching of FM1 in the Pt/FM1/Ta/FM2 structure is induced by spin–orbit torque. Current pulses are used to set the perpendicular magnetization state, which acts as the synapse weight, and spintronic implementation of the excitatory/inhibitory postsynaptic potentials and spike timing‐dependent plasticity are demonstrated. This functionality is made possible by the action of the in‐plane interlayer exchange coupling field which leads to broadened, multistate magnetic reversal characteristics. Numerical simulations, combined with investigations of a reference sample with a single perpendicular magnetized Pt/FM1/Ta structure, reveal that the broadening is due to the in‐plane field component tuning the efficiency of the spin–orbit torque to drive domain walls across a landscape of varying pinning potentials. The conventionally binary FM1 inside the Pt/FM1/Ta/FM2 structure with an inherent in‐plane coupling field is therefore tuned into a multistate perpendicular ferromagnet and represents a synaptic emulator for neuromorphic computing, demonstrating a significant pathway toward a combination of spintronics and synaptic electronics.


Cao, Y., Rushforth, A., Sheng, Y., Zheng, H., & Wang, K. (2019). Tuning a binary ferromagnet into a multi-state synapse with spin-orbit-torque-induced plasticity. Advanced Functional Materials, 29(25),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 1, 2019
Online Publication Date Mar 12, 2019
Publication Date Mar 12, 2019
Deposit Date Mar 13, 2019
Publicly Available Date Mar 13, 2020
Journal Advanced Functional Materials
Print ISSN 1616-301X
Electronic ISSN 1616-3028
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 25
Article Number 1808104
Keywords Spin-orbit torques (SOTs); Multi-state magnetization switching; Interlayer exchange coupling; Synaptic plasticity; Spike timing-dependent plasticity (STDP)
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Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Cao, Y., Rushforth, A. W., Sheng, Y., Zheng, H., Wang, K., Adv. Funct. Mater. 2019, 1808104. , which has been published in final form at . This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions


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