We present a general drift-diffusion theory beyond linear response to explain the unidirectional magnetoresistance (UMR) observed in recent experiments in various magnetic heterostructures. In general, such nonlinear magnetoresistance may originate from the concerted action of current-induced spin accumulation and spin asymmetry in electron mobility. As a case study, we calculate the UMR in a bilayer system consisting of a heavy-metal (HM) and a ferromagnetic metal (FM), where the spin accumulation is induced via the spin Hall effect in the bulk of the HM layer. Our previous formulation [cf. PRB 94, 140411(R) (2016)] is generalized to include the interface resistance and spin memory loss, which allows us to analyze in details their effects on the UMR. We found that the UMR turns out to be independent of the spin asymmetry of the interfacial resistance, at variance with the linear giant-magnetoresistance (GMR) effect. A linear relation between the UMR and the conductivity-spin asymmetry is revealed, which provides an alternative way to control the sign and magnitude of the UMR and hence may serve as an experimental signature of our proposed mechanism.
Steven S.-L. Zhang and Giovanni Vignale, "Theory of unidirectional magnetoresistance in magnetic heterostructures," Proc. SPIE 10357, Spintronics X, 1035707 (Presented at SPIE Nanoscience + Engineering: August 06, 2017; Published: 5 September 2017); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2275154.
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