First observation of a square lattice of merons and antimerons

December 5, 2018, RIKEN
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Scientists have, for the first time, observed a square lattice of merons and antimerons—tiny magnetic vortices and antivortices that form in a thin plate of the helical magnet Co8Zn9Mn3. By finely varying a magnetic field applied perpendicularly to the thin plate, the researchers were able to induce a transformation between the square lattice of merons-antimerons and a hexagonal lattice of skyrmions, another form of vortex that is topologically different from merons and antimerons.

The ability to manipulate nanometer-scale spin textures such as merons and skyrmions is a key to the development of spintronics—next-generation electronic devices that are very low in . The secret to their is that they make use of the topological spin —a property that emerges when electrons interact in a solid.

To perform the experiments, published in Nature, the group used a thin magnetic sample made of an alloy of cobalt, zinc, and manganese, Co8Zn9Mn3, which is known as a chiral magnet. They used an extremely weak to coax the tiny vortices to form in the thin sample, and observed them with Lorentz electron microscopy.

Xiuzhen Yu of the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS), the first author of the paper, says, "It is well known in nature that can trigger a structural transition of crystals between tetragonal and hexagonal lattices, and it had been predicted that this would be seen in topological spin-textures as well. It was very satisfying to be able to show that this idea was indeed true, when we witnessed the merons transformed into skyrmions as we carefully increased the magnetic field."

The experiments did, however, give the researchers some surprises. Using the thin plate sample, they experimented with lowering the temperature to see how it would affect the textures. According to Yu, "We found that the skyrmions were very robust, lasting even as we lowered the temperature of the thin plate, but the merons and antimerons were much more sensitive, and relaxed into spin helices as the temperature fell. This could have implications for the manipulation of these textures in future spintronic devices. In the future, we plan to do studies using not only magnetic anisotropy, but also local strain to control spin textures."

Explore further: Magnetic vortices observed in haematite

More information: X. Z. Yu et al, Transformation between meron and skyrmion topological spin textures in a chiral magnet, Nature (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0745-3

Related Stories

Magnetic vortices observed in haematite

August 13, 2018

Vortices are common in nature, but their formation can be hampered by long range forces. In work recently published in Nature Materials, an international team of researchers has used mapped X-ray magnetic linear and circular ...

Evidence for stable room-temperature skyrmions

July 6, 2015

In research published in Nature Communications, researchers from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science in Japan, along with collaborators in Europe and Japan, have identified a class of materials that displays clear ...

Recommended for you

CMS gets first result using largest-ever LHC data sample

February 15, 2019

Just under three months after the final proton–proton collisions from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)'s second run (Run 2), the CMS collaboration has submitted its first paper based on the full LHC dataset collected in ...

Gravitational waves will settle cosmic conundrum

February 14, 2019

Measurements of gravitational waves from approximately 50 binary neutron stars over the next decade will definitively resolve an intense debate about how quickly our universe is expanding, according to findings from an international ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Dec 06, 2018
I'm glad they describe what Merons and anti-Merons are, as I thought I'd missed something astonishing from CERN...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.