Observation of the magnetic flux and three-dimensional structure of skyrmion lattices by electron holography

Nat Nanotechnol. 2014 May;9(5):337-42. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2014.52. Epub 2014 Apr 13.


Skyrmions are nanoscale spin textures that are viewed as promising candidates as information carriers in future spintronic devices. Skyrmions have been observed using neutron scattering and microscopy techniques. Real-space imaging using electrons is a straightforward way to interpret spin configurations by detecting the phase shifts due to electromagnetic fields. Here, we report the first observation by electron holography of the magnetic flux and the three-dimensional spin configuration of a skyrmion lattice in Fe(0.5)Co(0.5)Si thin samples. The magnetic flux inside and outside a skyrmion was directly visualized and the handedness of the magnetic flux flow was found to be dependent on the direction of the applied magnetic field. The electron phase shifts φ in the helical and skyrmion phases were determined using samples with a stepped thickness t (from 55 nm to 510 nm), revealing a linear relationship (φ = 0.00173 t). The phase measurements were used to estimate the three-dimensional structures of both the helical and skyrmion phases, demonstrating that electron holography is a useful tool for studying complex magnetic structures and for three-dimensional, real-space mapping of magnetic fields.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't