Counterparts to Skyrmions discovered, could disrupt storage technology

July 02, 2018 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Researchers have discovered novel particle-like magnetic structures for storing data. While the already known Skyrmions code the binary "1", the new objects could be the missing "0". The discovery could advance the development of storage technology.

Tiny magnetic vortices, so-called skyrmions, are considered promising candidates for particularly space- and energy-saving data storage. Scientists at Research Centre Jülich have now experimentally demonstrated another class of magnetic objects that also behave like particles. They could take the development of data storage a big step forward. While Skyrmions encode the binary "1", they could represent the so far missing "0". The flat three-dimensional structures appear on the surface of special alloys and are also referred to by researchers as "chiral magnetic bobbers".

"For a long time, skyrmions were the only known research objects in the field of so-called chiral magnets. With the "magnetic bobbers", we are now adding another class that has a number of unique properties," says Nikolai Kiselev from the Peter Grünberg Institute in Jülich. Three years ago, together with other researchers, he theoretically predicted the existence of this new class of magnetic objects. Jülich specialists in the field of electron microscopy have now proved their existence experimentally for the first time.

The stability of skyrmions and these novel magnetic structures is related to a property also known as chirality. Just as the right hand cannot be converted into the left for reasons of symmetry, right-handed and left-handed magnetic vertebrae cannot be converted into one another. The structures are also very small. Their diameter is typically only a few tens of nanometers. Data can therefore be packed very tightly on a memory chip. The observation of such tiny magnetic textures is only possible with special techniques, which are only available in a few laboratories worldwide.

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