Nonequilibrium order parameter dynamics in spin and pseudospin ferromagnets
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Research on spintronics has galvanized the design of new devices that exploit the electronic spin in order to augment the performance of current microelectronic technologies. The sucessful implementation of these devices is largely contingent on a quantitative understanding of nonequilibrium magnetism in conducting ferromagnets. This thesis is largely devoted to expanding the microscopic theory of magnetization relaxation and current-induced spin torques in transition metals ferromagnets as well as in (III,Mn)V dilute magnetic semiconductors. We start with two theoretical studies of the Gilbert damping in electric equilibrium, which treat disorder exactly and include atomic-scale spatial inhomogeneities of the exchange field. These studies enable us to critically review the accuracy of the conventional expressions used to evaluate the Gilbert damping in transition metals. We follow by generalizing the calculation of the Gilbert damping to current-carrying steady states. We find that the magnetization relaxation changes in presence of an electric current. We connect this change with the non-adiabatic spin transfer torque parameter, which is an elusive yet potentially important quantity of nonequilibrium magnetism. This connection culminates in a concise analytical expression that will lead to the first ab initio estimates of the non-adiabatic spin transfer torque in real materials. Subsequently we predict that in gyrotropic ferromagnets the magnetic anisotropy can be altered by a dc current. In these systems spin-orbit coupling, broken inversion symmetry and chirality conspire to yield current-induced spin torques even for uniform magnetic textures. We thus demonstrate that a transport current can switch the magnetization of strained (Ga,Mn)As. This thesis concludes with the transfer of some fundamental ideas from nonequilibrium magnetism into the realm of superconductors, which may be viewed as easy-plane ferromagnets in the particle-hole space. We emphasize on the analogies between nonequilibrium magnetism and superconductivity, which have thus far been studied as completely separate disciplines. Our approach foreshadows potentially new effects in superconductors.