Publications by Shilei Zhang

Engineering helimagnetism in MnSi thin films

AIP Advances American Institute of Physics 6 (2016) 015217

S Zhang, R Chalasani, AA Baker, N-J Steinke, AI Figueroa, A Kohn, G van der Laan, T Hesjedal

Magnetic skyrmion materials have the great advantage of a robust topological magnetic structure, which makes them stable against the superparamagnetic effect and therefore a candidate for the next-generation of spintronic memory devices. Bulk MnSi, with an ordering temperature of 29.5 K, is a typical skyrmion system with a propagation vector periodicity of ∼18 nm. One crucial prerequisite for any kind of application, however, is the observation and precise control of skyrmions in thin films at room-temperature. Strain in epitaxial MnSi thin films is known to raise the transition temperature to 43 K. Here we show, using magnetometry and x-ray spectroscopy, that the transition temperature can be raised further through proximity coupling to a ferromagnetic layer. Similarly, the external field required to stabilize the helimagnetic phase is lowered. Transmission electron microscopy with element-sensitive detection is used to explore the structural origin of ferromagnetism in these Mn-doped substrates. Our work suggests that an artificial pinning layer, not limited to the MnSi/Si system, may enable room temperature, zero-field skyrmion thin-film systems, thereby opening the door to device applications.

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