This rather eye-crossing image is of skyrmions – nanoscale whirls or vortices of magnetic poles that form lattices within a magnetic material.
They are a type of quasiparticle that can zip across the material, pushed by electrical current. Not surprisingly, the properties have captured the imagination of scientists, who think they could lead to the next big advance in data storage.
But there are many challenges before that can happen: not the least that until recently the phenomenon was only observed at extreme low temperature and external magnetic forces are required.
Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory are making progress however, reporting that they have discovered the relaxation dynamics of a zero-field state in skyrmions.
The findings are in a paper published in the journal Nano Letters.