Room-Temperature Skyrmions in an Antiferromagnet-Based Heterostructure

Magnetic skyrmions as swirling spin textures with a nontrivial topology have potential applications as magnetic memory and storage devices. Since the initial discovery of skyrmions in non-centrosymmetric B20 materials, the recent effort has focused on exploring room-temperature skyrmions in heavy metal and ferromagnetic heterostructures, a material platform compatible with existing spintronic manufacturing technology. Here, we report the surprising observation that a room-temperature skyrmion phase can be stabilized in an entirely different class of systems based on antiferromagnetic (AFM) metal and ferromagnetic (FM) metal IrMn/CoFeB heterostructures. There are a number of distinct advantages of exploring skyrmions in such heterostructures including zero-field stabilization, tunable antiferromagnetic order, and sizable spin–orbit torque (SOT) for energy-efficient current manipulation. Through direct spatial imaging of individual skyrmions, quantitative evaluation of the interfacial Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction, and demonstration of current-driven skyrmion motion, our findings firmly establish the AFM/FM heterostructures as a promising material platform for exploring skyrmion physics and device applications.