Relation of the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction to spin currents and to the spin-orbit field
AbstractStarting from the general Berry phase theory of the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya interaction (DMI) we derive an expression for the linear contribution of the spin-orbit interaction (SOI). Thereby, we show analytically that at the first order in SOI DMI is given by the ground-state spin current. We verify this finding numerically by ab initio calculations in Mn/W(001) and Co/Pt(111) magnetic bilayers. We show that despite the strong SOI from the 5d heavy metals, DMI is well-approximated by the first order in SOI, while the ground-state spin current is not. We decompose the SOI-linear contribution to DMI into two parts. One part has a simple interpretation in terms of the Zeeman interaction between the spin-orbit field and the spin misalignment that electrons acquire in magnetically noncollinear textures. This interpretation provides also an intuitive understanding of the symmetry of DMI on the basis of the spin-orbit field and it explains in a simple way why DMI and ground-state spin currents are related. Moreover, we show that energy currents driven by magnetization dynamics and associated to DMI can be explained by counter-propagating spin currents that carry energy due to their Zeeman interaction with the spin-orbit field. Finally, we discuss options to modify DMI by nonequilibrium spin currents excited by electric fields or light.