Tailoring magnetic skyrmions in ultra-thin transition metal films


Magnetic skyrmions are localized, stable spin structures which have been predicted more than 20 years ago, but were experimentally observed only a few years ago in some chiral crystals. Since skyrmions can be manipulated at ultra-low electric current densities they have raised high hopes for future spintronic applications. Recently, they have also been discovered in ultra-thin transition metal films at surfaces and writing and deleting of single skyrmions has been demonstrated. As reported in Nature Communications [1], the group of Stefan Heinze now provides a theoretical understanding of their occurrence in these systems based on electronic structure theory. It is shown that the properties of the skyrmions such as their diameter and stability can be tailored by the structural and chemical composition of the interfaces. This paves the way to explore the potential of skyrmions at transition-metal interfaces for spintronics. 
[1] B. Dupé, M. Hoffmann, C. Paillard, and S. Heinze, Nature Comm. 5, 4030 (2014).