Publications associated with Oxide Electronics

Observation of magnetic vortex pairs at room temperature in a planar α-Fe2O3/Co heterostructure

Bulletin of the American Physical Society American Physical Society (2018)

F Chmiel, N Price, R Johnson, A Lamirand, J Schad, GVD Laan, DT Harris, J Irwin, C-B Eom, P Radaelli

Vortices are among the simplest topological structures, and occur whenever a flow field `whirls' around a one-dimensional core. They are ubiquitous to many branches of physics, from fluid dynamics to superconductivity and superfluidity, and are even predicted by some unified theories of particle interactions, where they might explain some of the largest-scale structures seen in today's Universe. In the crystalline state, vortex formation is rare, since it is generally hampered by long-range interactions: in ferroic materials (ferromagnetic and ferroelectric), vortices are only observed when the effects of the dipole-dipole interaction is modified by confinement at the nanoscale, or when the parameter associated with the vorticity does not couple directly with strain. Here, we present the discovery of a novel form of vortices in antiferromagnetic (AFM) hematite ($\alpha$-Fe$_2$O$_3$) epitaxial films, in which the primary whirling parameter is the staggered magnetisation. Remarkably, ferromagnetic (FM) topological objects with the same vorticity and winding number of the $\alpha$-Fe$_2$O$_3$ vortices are imprinted onto an ultra-thin Co ferromagnetic over-layer by interfacial exchange. Our data suggest that the ferromagnetic vortices may be merons (half-skyrmions, carrying an out-of-plane core magnetisation), and indicate that the vortex/meron pairs can be manipulated by the application of an in-plane magnetic field, H$_{\parallel}$, giving rise to large-scale vortex-antivortex annihilation.

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