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Electrical detection of single magnetic skyrmions in metallic multilayers at room temperature


Magnetic skyrmions are topologically protected whirling spin textures that can be stabilized in magnetic materials by an asymmetric exchange interaction between neighbouring spins that imposes a fixed chirality. Their small size, together with the robustness against external perturbations, make magnetic skyrmions potential storage bits in a novel generation of memory and logic devices. To this aim, their contribution to the electrical transport properties of a device must be characterized—however, the existing demonstrations are limited to low temperatures and mainly in magnetic materials with a B20 crystal structure. Here we combine concomitant magnetic force microscopy and Hall resistivity measurements to demonstrate the electrical detection of sub-100 nm skyrmions in a multilayered thin film at room temperature. Furthermore, we detect and analyse the Hall signal of a single skyrmion, which indicates that it arises from the anomalous Hall effect with a negligible contribution from the topological Hall effect.

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Fig. 1: Set-up for skyrmion electrical detection and imaging.
Fig. 2: RT detection of current-nucleated skyrmions.
Fig. 3: RT transverse resistivity due to skyrmions.
Fig. 4: Variation in Hall due to a single skyrmion.

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We acknowledge C. Moreau-Luchaire for participating in the sample preparation, A. Vecchiola for technical support in the MFM measurements, D. Pinna for support in the analysis of the skyrmion profiles and C. Moutafis, S. Finizio, P. Warnicke and J. Raabe for their technical support at the (PolLux) beamline at SLS, Paul Scherrer Institüt, Villigen, Switzerland. We acknowledge financial support from European Union grant MAGicSky No. FET-Open-665095.

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N.R., V.C. and A.F. conceived the project. S.C. grew the multilayer films. K.G. patterned the samples. D.M. acquired the MFM data, transport measurements and STXM, treated and analysed the data with the help of N.R., W.L., K.B. and V.C. D.M., N.R., V.C. and A.F. prepared the manuscript. All authors discussed and commented the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Vincent Cros.

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Maccariello, D., Legrand, W., Reyren, N. et al. Electrical detection of single magnetic skyrmions in metallic multilayers at room temperature. Nature Nanotech 13, 233–237 (2018).

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