Towards control of the size and helicity of skyrmions in helimagnetic alloys by spin-orbit coupling

K. Shibata, X. Z. Yu, T. Hara, D. Morikawa, N. Kanazawa, K. Kimoto, S. Ishiwata, Y. Matsui, Y. Tokura

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

248 Citations (Scopus)


Chirality - that is, left- or right-handedness - is an important concept in a broad range of scientific areas. In condensed matter, chirality is found not only in molecular or crystal forms, but also in magnetic structures. A magnetic skyrmion1-8 is a topologically stable spin vortex structure, as observed in chiral-lattice helimagnets, and is one example of such a structure. The spin swirling direction (skyrmion helicity) should be closely related to the underlying lattice chirality via the relativistic spin-orbit coupling. Here, we report on the correlation between skyrmion helicity and crystal chirality in alloys of helimagnets Mn1-x Fex Ge with varying compositions by Lorentz transmission electron microscopy and convergent-beam electron diffraction over a broad range of compositions (x = 0.3-1.0). The skyrmion lattice constant shows non-monotonous variation with composition x, with a divergent behaviour around x = 0.8, where the correlation between magnetic helicity and crystal chirality changes sign. This originates from continuous variation of the spin-orbit coupling strength and its sign reversal in the metallic alloys as a function of x. Controllable spin-orbit coupling may offer a promising way to tune skyrmion size and helicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-728
Number of pages6
JournalNature Nanotechnology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Oct


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