Electrical control of a magnetic state of matter lays the foundation for information technologies and for understanding of spintronic phenomena. Spin–orbit torque provides an efficient mechanism for the electrical manipulation of magnetic orders1–11. In particular, spin–orbit torque switching of perpendicular magnetization in nanoscale ferromagnetic bits has enabled the development of stable, reliable and low-power memories and computation12–14. Likewise, for antiferromagnetic spintronics, electrical bidirectional switching of an antiferromagnetic order in a perpendicular geometry may have huge impacts, given its potential advantage for high-density integration and ultrafast operation15,16. Here we report the experimental realization of perpendicular and full spin–orbit torque switching of an antiferromagnetic binary state. We use the chiral antiferromagnet Mn3Sn (ref. 17), which exhibits the magnetization-free anomalous Hall effect owing to a ferroic order of a cluster magnetic octupole hosted in its chiral antiferromagnetic state18. We fabricate heavy-metal/Mn3Sn heterostructures by molecular beam epitaxy and introduce perpendicular magnetic anisotropy of the octupole using an epitaxial in-plane tensile strain. By using the anomalous Hall effect as the readout, we demonstrate 100 per cent switching of the perpendicular octupole polarization in a 30-nanometre-thick Mn3Sn film with a small critical current density of less than 15 megaamperes per square centimetre. Our theory reveals that the perpendicular geometry between the polarization directions of current-induced spin accumulation and of the octupole persistently maximizes the spin–orbit torque efficiency during the deterministic bidirectional switching process. Our work provides a significant basis for antiferromagnetic spintronics.
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