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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Peter Hatton

Wilson, M. N., Crisanti, M., Barker, C., Štefančič, A., White, J. S., Birch, M. T., Balakrishnan, G., Cubitt, R. & Hatton, P. D. (2019). Measuring the formation energy barrier of skyrmions in zinc-substituted Cu2OSeO3. Physical Review B 99(17): 174421.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

We report small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) measurements of the skyrmion lattice in
(Cu0.976Zn0.024 )2OSeO3 under the application of electric and magnetic fields. These measurements show
an expansion of the skyrmion lattice stability region with electric field. Furthermore, using time-resolved
SANS, we observe the slow formation of skyrmions after an electric or magnetic field is applied, which has not
been observed in pristine Cu2OSeO3 crystals. The measured formation times are dramatically longer than the
corresponding skyrmion annihilation times after the external field is removed, and increase exponentially from
100 s at 52.5 K to 10 000 s at 51.5 K. This thermally activated behavior indicates an energy barrier for skyrmion
formation of 1.57(2) eV, the size of which demonstrates the huge cost for creating these complex chiral objects.