Observing and characterizing the spin distributions on a nanometer scale are of vital importance for understanding nanomagnetism and its application to spintronics. The magnetic structure in MnSi thin samples prepared from a bulk, which undergoes a transition from a helix to a skyrmion lattice, was investigated by in situ observation using Lorentz microscopy. Stripe domains were observed at zero applied field below 22.5 K. A skyrmion lattice with 6-fold symmetry in real space appeared when a field of 0.18 T was applied normal to the film plane. The lattice constant was estimated to be 18 nm, almost identical to the helical period. In comparison with the marginally stable skyrmion phase in a bulk sample, the skyrmion phase was stable over a wide range of temperatures and magnetic fields in the thin samples.
© 2012 American Chemical Society