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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)