Theory of spin Hall magnetoresistance (SMR) and related phenomena

Yan Ting Chen, Saburo Takahashi, Hiroyasu Nakayama, Matthias Althammer, Sebastian T.B. Goennenwein, Eiji Saitoh, Gerrit E.W. Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

74 Citations (Scopus)


We review the so-called spin Hall magnetoresistance (SMR) in bilayers of a magnetic insulator and a metal, in which spin currents are generated in the normal metal by the spin Hall effect. The associated angular momentum transfer to the ferromagnetic layer and thereby the electrical resistance is modulated by the angle between the applied current and the magnetization direction. The SMR provides a convenient tool to non-invasively measure the magnetization direction and spin-transfer torque to an insulator. We introduce the minimal theoretical instruments to calculate the SMR, i.e. spin diffusion theory and quantum mechanical boundary conditions. This leads to a small set of parameters that can be fitted to experiments. We discuss the limitations of the theory as well as alternative mechanisms such as the ferromagnetic proximity effect and Rashba spin-orbit torques, and point out new developments.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103004
JournalJournal of Physics Condensed Matter
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Feb 16


  • spin Hall effect
  • spin currents
  • spintronics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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