Magnetic bubbles with a twist

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Science  17 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6245, pp. 234-235
DOI: 10.1126/science.aab3689

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Present-day hard disk drives use magnetic bits that are read out by movable read heads. To circumvent the inherent fragility of such a mechanical construction, and to exploit the third dimension for increased storage density, Parkin et al. proposed a racetrack memory device (1). The general concept is that the information is encoded in a localized magnetization configuration that can be driven through the material with electrical currents and transported to a stationary read head. Recently, interface-induced skyrmions, which are circular particlelike magnetic objects (see the figure, panel A), have been envisioned as ideal candidates for future racetrack memory–type applications (see the figure, panel B) (2, 3). On page 283 of this issue, Jiang et al. (4) have made progress toward realizing such a device architecture. They report on the generation and movement of individual skyrmionic bubbles at room temperature, accomplished by exploiting two different spin-orbit coupling–related effects.