Crafting magnetic skyrmions at room temperature : size, stability and dynamics in multilayers

Abstract : Magnetic skyrmions are nanoscale two-dimensional windings in the spin configuration of some magnetic materials subject to the Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya antisymmetric exchange interaction. They feature a non-trivial topology and show promise to be the smallest achievable magnetic textures. Very recently, magnetic skyrmions have been successfully stabilised up to room temperature by leveraging on the design of magnetic multilayer systems breaking the vertical inversion symmetry. Following up on this achievement, the main objective of this thesis is the understanding and the control of the various physical properties of skyrmions hosted by such multilayer systems. As a first approach to this objective, an original model allowing to predict the profiles adopted by multilayer skyrmions is described and then employed. This numerical model is very generic, as it exploits only the cylindrical symmetry of multilayer skyrmions, in order to determine the magnetostatic interactions with less effort. This model is further extended in order to approximate the thermal stability of multilayer skyrmions, which is key to their experimental realisation. The next aspect of this thesis consists in the experimental study of the electrical manipulation of multilayer skyrmions, demonstrating three main functionalities that are nucleation by local currents, displacement under spin currents and individual detection by transverse voltage. The third aspect of my thesis is the study of the physical properties influencing the current-induced motion of skyrmions in magnetic multilayers. A pinning behaviour is evidenced experimentally and analysed relying on micromagnetic modelling. One of the important results of this work is also the prediction of hybrid chirality for some multilayer magnetic configurations, which is then demonstrated experimentally using a synchrotron technique. The impact of hybrid chirality on current-induced skyrmion motion is discussed and leads to the optimisation of the multilayer design, resulting in the experimental observation of motion for skyrmions below 50 nm in radius at velocities reaching around 40 m/s. The last part of this thesis aims at leveraging on these theoretical and experimental advances in order to reduce the size of skyrmions at room temperature. After the analysis of the impact of dipolar interactions on skyrmion stability, the engineering of the materials and of the layers periodicity is attempted. I also investigate experimentally the conception of magnetic textures with compensated magnetization in multilayer structures known as synthetic antiferromagnets, and show that they can host antiferromagnetic skyrmions at room temperature. This last result opens up new prospects for achieving room-temperature skyrmions combining size in the single-digit nm range and high mobility, potentially allowing applications towards energy-efficient computation and storage devices with a very dense integration.
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William Legrand. Crafting magnetic skyrmions at room temperature : size, stability and dynamics in multilayers. Materials Science [cond-mat.mtrl-sci]. Université Paris-Saclay, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019SACLS066⟩. ⟨tel-02145619⟩

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