Research Article

Blowing magnetic skyrmion bubbles

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Science  17 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6245, pp. 283-286
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa1442

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Skyrmions emerge in trilayers

Skyrmions are tiny whirlpools of magnetic spin with potential to act as carriers of information in future devices. Skyrmions have been observed in multiple materials but usually at impractically low temperatures. Jiang et al. used a constriction in a trilayer system to create skyrmions at room temperature (see the Perspective by von Bergmann). The authors pushed elongated magnetic domains through the constriction using an in-plane current, causing individual skyrmion bubbles to form.

Science, this issue p. 283; see also p. 234

Abstract

The formation of soap bubbles from thin films is accompanied by topological transitions. Here we show how a magnetic topological structure, a skyrmion bubble, can be generated in a solid-state system in a similar manner. Using an inhomogeneous in-plane current in a system with broken inversion symmetry, we experimentally “blow” magnetic skyrmion bubbles from a geometrical constriction. The presence of a spatially divergent spin-orbit torque gives rise to instabilities of the magnetic domain structures that are reminiscent of Rayleigh-Plateau instabilities in fluid flows. We determine a phase diagram for skyrmion formation and reveal the efficient manipulation of these dynamically created skyrmions, including depinning and motion. The demonstrated current-driven transformation from stripe domains to magnetic skyrmion bubbles could lead to progress in skyrmion-based spintronics.

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