Imaging the vertical dimension of magnetic skyrmions

Authors: Peter Hatton (University of Durham) , Max Birch (Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems)
Co-authored by industrial partner: No

Type: Diamond Annual Review Highlight

State: Published (Approved)
Published: July 2021
Diamond Proposal Number(s): 20866

Abstract: Magnetic skyrmions are hedgehog-like particles that can be found in some magnetic materials. They are typically portrayed as two- dimensional whirl-like objects, but in reality, skyrmion lattices have a vertical, tube-like structure. The limitations of most magnetic imaging techniques meant that scientists had not observed this three-dimensional structure. Imaging the three-dimensional structure of the skyrmions is important for understanding the stability of skyrmions. A team of researchers used I10: Beamline for Advanced Dichroism Experiments (BLADE) to perform magnetic diffraction measurements on a thin slice of skyrmion material, approximately ~100 nanometres thick. They needed low energy X-rays to probe the magnetic state of the sample, and the experiment had to be performed under vacuum. Using the beamline’s soft X-ray diffractometer, Reflectivity and Advanced Scattering from Ordered Regimes (RASOR), allowed them to perform the experiment while controlling the temperature of the sample and applying external magnetic fields. With these results, the team could determine at what temperatures and applied magnetic fields the magnetic skyrmions exist within the sample. This information allowed them to acquire images of skyrmions’ vertical structure at X-ray imaging beamlines at SOLEIL and BESSY II. And by imaging their vertical structure, they were able to study the nanoscale mechanisms that govern the formation and destruction of skyrmions. Skyrmions have potential applications in future electronic devices. The computers and smartphones of the future may use skyrmions to store data. Understanding the stability of skyrmions is essential so that the data is not lost when the skyrmion device is turned off. This research is, therefore, a crucial step towards realising this goal.

Journal Keywords: Skyrmions; Imaging; Diffraction

Diamond Keywords: Skyrmions; Ferromagnetism

Subject Areas: Materials, Physics

Instruments: I10-Beamline for Advanced Dichroism

Other Facilities: SOLEIL; BESSY II

Added On: 12/11/2021 14:40

Discipline Tags:

Quantum Materials Hard condensed matter - electronic properties Physics Magnetism Materials Science

Technical Tags:

Spectroscopy Circular Dichroism (CD) X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism (XMCD)