Publications associated with Quantum Materials

Reciprocal space tomography of 3D skyrmion lattice order in a chiral magnet.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 115 (2018) 6386-6391

S Zhang, G van der Laan, J Müller, L Heinen, M Garst, A Bauer, H Berger, C Pfleiderer, T Hesjedal

It is commonly assumed that surfaces modify the properties of stable materials within the top few atomic layers of a bulk specimen only. Exploiting the polarization dependence of resonant elastic X-ray scattering to go beyond conventional diffraction and imaging techniques, we have determined the depth dependence of the full 3D spin structure of skyrmions-that is, topologically nontrivial whirls of the magnetization-below the surface of a bulk sample of Cu2OSeO3 We found that the skyrmions change exponentially from pure Néel- to pure Bloch-twisting over a distance of several hundred nanometers between the surface and the bulk, respectively. Though qualitatively consistent with theory, the strength of the Néel-twisting at the surface and the length scale of the variation observed experimentally exceed material-specific modeling substantially. In view of the exceptionally complete quantitative theoretical account of the magnetic rigidities and associated static and dynamic properties of skyrmions in Cu2OSeO3 and related materials, we conclude that subtle changes of the materials properties must exist at distances up to several hundred atomic layers into the bulk, which originate in the presence of the surface. This has far-reaching implications for the creation of skyrmions in surface-dominated systems and identifies, more generally, surface-induced gradual variations deep within a bulk material and their impact on tailored functionalities as an unchartered scientific territory.

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