Axel Hoffman, Argonne National Laboratory
Manipulating room-temperature magnetic skyrmions
Written by Michael Lee
Magnetic skyrmions, a spin state with a net topological charge, were first discovered in 2009 by researchers studying the intricate MnSi magnetic phase diagram. The new form of charge was immediately promising as an alternative for electron motion in information technologies, but only emerged in magnetic materials with broken inversion symmetry. This is a phenomenon that occurs at the heterointerfaces of multilayer films, thus opening the door for designing materials capable of forming skyrmions. Axel Hoffman and collaborators have demonstrated not only the ability to generate skyrmions at room temperature by using a combination of applied field and electric current to push magnetic stripe domains through a geometric constriction, but fine control over their motion within wires. Already the finer details of motion induced by spin-Hall and edge effects have been elucidated, suggesting the rapid development of functional devices based on magnetic skyrmions.