Transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) are promising materials for efficient generation of current-induced spin-orbit torques (SOTs) on an adjacent ferromagnetic layer. Numerous effects, both interfacial and bulk, have been put forward to explain the different torques previously observed. Thus far, however, there is no clear consensus on the microscopic origin underlying the SOTs observed in these TMD/ferromagnet bilayers. To shine light on the microscopic mechanisms at play, here we perform thickness dependent SOT measurements on the semiconducting WSe2/permalloy bilayer with various WSe2 layer thickness, down to the monolayer limit. We observe a large out-of-plane field-like torque with spin-torque conductivities up to 1 × 104 (ℏ/2e) (Ωm)−1. For some devices, we also observe a smaller in-plane antidamping-like torque, with spin-torque conductivities up to 4 × 103 (ℏ/2e) (Ωm)−1, comparable to other TMD-based systems. Both torques show no clear dependence on the WSe2 thickness, as expected for a Rashba system. Unexpectedly, we observe a strong in-plane magnetic anisotropy—up to about 6.6 × 104 erg cm−3—induced in permalloy by the underlying hexagonal WSe2 crystal. Using scanning transmission electron microscopy, we confirm that the easy axis of the magnetic anisotropy is aligned to the armchair direction of the WSe2. Our results indicate a strong interplay between the ferromagnet and TMD, and unveil the nature of the SOTs in TMD-based devices. These findings open new avenues for possible methods for optimizing the torques and the interaction with interfaced magnets, important for future non-volatile magnetic devices for data processing and storage.
- Magnetic anisotropy
- Spin-orbit torques
- Transition metal dichalcogenides
- Two-dimensional materials
- Van der Waals materials