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Stable Magnetic Skyrmion States at Room Temperature Confined to Corrals of Artificial Surface Pits Fabricated by a Focused Electron Beam

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journal contribution
posted on 23.01.2018 by Takao Matsumoto, Yeong-Gi So, Yuji Kohno, Yuichi Ikuhara, Naoya Shibata
Stable confinement of elemental magnetic nanostructures, such as a single magnetic domain, is fundamental in modern magnetic recording technology. It is well-known that various magnetic textures can be stabilized by geometrical confinement using artificial nanostructures. The magnetic skyrmion, with novel spin texture and promise for future memory devices because of its topological protection and dimension at the nanometer scale, is no exception. So far, skyrmion confinement techniques using large-scale boundaries with limited geometries such as isolated disks and stripes prepared by conventional microfabrication techniques have been used. Here, we demonstrate an alternative technique confining skyrmions to artificial nanostructures (corrals) built from surface pits fabricated by a focused electron beam. Using aberration-corrected differential phase contrast scanning transmission electron microscopy, we directly visualized stable skyrmion states confined at a room temperature to corrals made of artificial surface pits on a thin plate of Co8Zn8Mn4. We observed a stable single-skyrmion state confined to a triangular corral and a unique transition into a triple-skyrmions state depending on the perpendicular magnetic field. Furthermore, we made an array of stable single-skyrmion states by using concatenated triangular corrals. Artificial control of skyrmion states with the present technique should be a powerful way to realize future nonvolatile memory devices using skyrmions.