Ultra-small swirling magnetic vortices found in a material made of iron, germanium and tellurium

Researchers from the Argonne National Laboratory and the National Laboratory

of a strong magnetic field (MagLab) discovered the amazing properties of a magnetic material made of iron, germanium and tellurium. A two-dimensional ferromagnet has the form of a thin sheet up to 10 atoms thick.

Scientists have found that in ultra-thin materialtwo types of magnetic fields can coexist. Physicists call them merons and skyrmions (English merons, skyrmions). They are similar to the miniature swirling storms that dot the flat landscape of a ferromagnet, but differ in size and behavior.

“Both skyrmions and merons are very stable, becausethat, like tightly tied knots, they are difficult to untangle,” explains Luis Balikas, who simultaneously works at MagLab and Florida State University. "This stability, along with their magnetic properties, makes them attractive as storage media."

The authors of the new study observed for the first time bothmagnetic textures in thin film simultaneously at low temperature, from −173.333 °C to −103.8 °C. In addition, merons were preserved to room temperature, which is important for their use in practical devices. In the past, they have only been observed at much lower temperatures in various materials.

A team of scientists performed an additional magneticand other imaging at the Argonne Center for Nanoscale Materials. “Much more fundamental research is needed to fully understand the behavior of skyrmions and merons under different conditions and how to use them to encode information. There are many seemingly fantastic schemes. We cannot predict the future, but it is likely that one or more of them will be implemented in the future, ”the scientists explain.

The study is published in Advanced Materials.

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On the cover: a simulation capturing the various twisted textures of skyrmions and merons observed in a thin film of a ferromagnet
Credit: University of Edinburgh/Based on microscopic images collected by Argonne National Laboratory on samples prepared in MagLab