Spontaneous formation and dynamics of half-skyrmions in a chiral liquid-crystal film

Andriy Nych, Jun Ichi Fukuda, Uliana Ognysta, Slobodan Zumer, Igor Muševic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Skyrmions are coreless vortex-like excitations emerging in diverse condensed-matter systems, and real-time observation of their dynamics is still challenging. Here we report the first direct optical observation of the spontaneous formation of half-skyrmions. In a thin film of a chiral liquid crystal, depending on experimental conditions including film thickness, they form a hexagonal lattice whose lattice constant is a few hundred nanometres, or appear as isolated entities with topological defects compensating their charge. These half-skyrmions exhibit intriguing dynamical behaviour driven by thermal fluctuations. Numerical calculations of real-space images successfully corroborate the experimental observations despite the challenge because of the characteristic scale of the structures close to the optical resolution limit. A thin film of a chiral liquid crystal thus offers an intriguing platform that facilitates a direct investigation of the dynamics of topological excitations such as half-skyrmions and their manipulation with optical techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1215-1220
Number of pages6
JournalNature Physics
Volume13
Issue number12
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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