Creation and observation of Hopfions in magnetic multilayer systems.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21846-5
Among topological solitons, magnetic skyrmions are two-dimensional particle-like objects with a continuous winding of the magnetization, and magnetic Hopfions are three-dimensional objects that can be formed from a closed loop of twisted skyrmion strings. Theoretical models suggest that magnetic Hopfions can be stabilized in frustrated or chiral magnetic systems, and target skymions can be transformed into Hopfions by adapting their perpendicular magnetic anisotropy, but their experimental verification has been elusive so far. Here, we present an experimental study of magnetic Hopfions that are created in Ir/Co/Pt multilayers shaped into nanoscale disks, known to host target skyrmions. To characterize three-dimensional spin textures that distinguish Hopfions from target skyrmions magnetic images are recorded with surface-sensitive X-ray photoemission electron microscopy and bulk-sensitive soft X-ray transmission microscopy using element-specific X-ray magnetic circular dichroism effects as magnetic contrast. These results could stimulate further investigations of Hopfions and their potential application in three-dimensional spintronics devices.