We present the creation and time evolution of two-dimensional Skyrmion excitations in an antiferromagnetic spinor Bose-Einstein condensate. Using a spin rotation method, the Skyrmion spin textures were imprinted on a sodium condensate in a polar phase, where the two-dimensional Skyrmion is topologically protected. The Skyrmion was observed to be stable on a short time scale of a few tens of ms but to dynamically deform its shape and eventually decay to a uniform spin texture. The deformed spin textures reveal that the decay dynamics involves breaking the polar phase inside the condensate without having topological charge density flow through the boundary of the finite-sized sample. We discuss the possible formation of half-quantum vortices in the deformation process.
© 2012 American Physical Society