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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Energy-efficient generation of skyrmion phases in Co/Ni/Pt-based multilayers using Joule heating


We have studied the effects of electrical current pulses on skyrmion formation in a series of Co/Ni/Pt-based multilayers. Transmission x-ray microscopy reveals that by applying electrical current pulses of duration and current density on the order of 50 μs and 1.7×1010A/m2, respectively, in an applied magnetic field of 50 mT, stripe-to-skyrmion transformations are attained. The skyrmions formed by such pulses remain stable across a wide range of magnetic fields, including zero field. We attribute the transformation primarily to current-induced Joule heating on the order of ∼128 K. Reducing the magnetic moment and perpendicular anisotropy using thin rare-earth spacers reduces the pulse duration, current density, and magnetic field necessary to 25 μs, 2.4×109A/m2, and 27 mT, respectively. These findings show that energetic inputs allow for the formation of skyrmion phases in a broad class of materials, and that material properties can be tuned to yield more energy-efficient access to skyrmion phases.

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