In the world of information technology, conventional electronics reign supreme. But what if there was another way? RIKEN researchers are delving into the realm of spintronics, a field that holds the promise of faster and more efficient devices. By harnessing the power of spin, rather than solely relying on electric charge, these low-energy spintronic devices could revolutionize the way we process information. One particular area of interest for the team is the use of nanoscale magnetic whirlpools known as skyrmions. These tiny vortex-like structures have the potential to be controlled with significantly smaller currents or electric fields, making them ideal candidates for applications in information and communication technologies.
To understand the behavior of skyrmions and unlock their true potential, the researchers focused their efforts on a material called manganese monosilicide. This helimagnet exhibits a unique property where the spins of its molecular lattice align in helical patterns. To measure the lowest energy magnetic excitations in the skyrmion states, the team relied on the highly sensitive neutron spin echo technique.
Using the state-of-the-art IN15 neutron spin echo spectrometer at the Institut-Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, the researchers were able to gain unprecedented insights into the dynamics of skyrmions. By illuminating a sample with a beam of neutrons and analyzing how the sample’s magnetic fields affect the spin and velocity of the neutrons, the team confirmed theoretical predictions regarding the asymmetric dispersion of excitations caused by the string-like structures of skyrmions in the lattice of manganese monosilicide.
After two years of waiting, the researchers finally obtained the conclusive evidence they needed. Their initial experiment in October 2018 had to be supplemented with further observations to ensure that the observed behavior was exclusive to the skyrmion phase and not another magnetic structure known as the conical phase. With this confirmation, the path forward in fully harnessing the power of skyrmions becomes clearer.
With the dynamics of skyrmions now understood at a deeper level, the possibilities for spintronics are expanding rapidly. Beyond the realm of computer memory that doesn’t require power to retain stored data, there are countless other applications waiting to be explored. Spintronics has the potential to revolutionize information and communication technologies, enabling faster and more energy-efficient devices. The coexistence of the conical and skyrmion phases in manganese monosilicide remains an area of focus for future research.
The world of spintronics is full of exciting possibilities. The RIKEN researchers have made significant strides in understanding the dynamics of skyrmions, bringing us one step closer to the development of low-energy spintronic devices. Through their groundbreaking work, we are uncovering the full potential of the tiny magnetic whirlpools and the ways in which they can be controlled and utilized. As we continue to delve deeper into the world of spintronics, limitless opportunities await us in the realm of information and communication technologies.