In bilayer systems consisting of an ultrathin ferromagnetic layer adjacent to a metal with strong spin-orbit coupling, an applied in-plane current induces torques on the magnetization. The torques that arise from spin-orbit coupling are of particular interest. Here we use first-principles methods to calculate the current-induced torque in a Pt-Co bilayer to help determine the underlying mechanism. We focus exclusively on the analog to the Rashba torque, and do not consider the spin Hall effect. The details of the torque depend strongly on the layer thicknesses and the interface structure, providing an explanation for the wide variation in results found by different groups. The torque depends on the magnetization direction in a way similar to that found for a simple Rashba model. Artificially turning off the exchange spin splitting and separately the spin-orbit coupling potential in the Pt shows that the primary source of the “fieldlike” torque is a proximate spin-orbit effect on the Co layer induced by the strong spin-orbit coupling in the Pt.
Current-induced torques and interfacial spin-orbit coupling 2013, 88 (21) Physical Review B