The electron transport properties of hybrid ferromagneticInormal metal structures such as multilayers and spin valves depend on the relative orientation of the magnetization direction of the ferromagnetic elements. Whereas the contrast in the resistance for parallel and antiparallel magnetizations, the so-called giant magnetoresistance, is relatively well understood for quite some time, a coherent picture for non-collinear magnetoelectronic circuits and devices has evolved only recently. We review here such a theory for electron charge and spin transport with general magnetization directions that is based on the semiclassical concept of a vector spin accumulation. In conjunction with first-principles calculations of scattering matrices many phenomena, e.g. the current-induced spin-transfer torque, can be understood and predicted quantitatively for different material combinations.
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