A German-Chinese team led by Gisela Schütz from the MPI for Intelligent Systems has discovered a new interaction between light and matter at BESSY II.
They succeeded in creating nanometer-fine magnetic vortices in a magnetic layer. These are so-called skyrmions, and candidates for future information technologies.
Skyrmions are 100 nanometre small three-dimensional structures that occur in magnetic materials. They resemble small coils: atomic elementary magnets – so-called spins – which are arranged in closed vortex structures. Skyrmions are topologically protected, i.e. their shape is unchangeable, and are therefore considered energy-efficient data storage devices.
Soft x-rays at BESSY II
In a series of experiments on the MAXYMUS beamline of BESSY II, the researchers have now shown that a bundled soft X-ray beam with a diameter of less than 50 nanometres can generate a magnetic vortex of 100 nanometres. In order to make the skyrmions visible, the researchers use the MAXYMUS scanning transmission X-ray microscope. This is a high-resolution X-ray microscope, weighing 1.8 tons, located at BESSY II.
Image: bundled soft X-ray beam with a diameter of less than 50 nanometers writes numerous magnetic vortices, which together form the term “MPI-IS”. Credit: Alejandro Posada, Felix Groß/MPI-IS