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Skyrmions move at record speeds: A step towards the computing of the future


An international research team with scientists at the CEA-IRIG [1] has discovered that the magnetic nanobubbles [2] known as skyrmions can be moved by electrical currents, attaining record speeds up to 900 m/s.​

Published on 19 April 2024
Anticipated as future bits in computer memory, these nanobubbles offer enhanced avenues for information processing in electronic devices. Their tiny size [3] provides great computing and information storage capacity, as well as low energy consumption.
Until now, these nanobubbles moved no faster than 100 m/s, which is too slow for computing applications. However, thanks to the use of an antiferromagnetic material [4] as medium, the scientists successfully had the skyrmions move 10 times faster than previously observed.
These results, which were published in Science on 19 March, offer new prospects for developing higher-performance and less energy-intensive computing devices.

This study is part of the SPIN national research programme [5] launched on 29 January, which supports innovative research in spintronics, with a view to helping develop a more agile and enduring digital world.

Antiferromagnetic skyrmions moved in a magnetic racetrack by an electrical current.
© Bruno Bourgeois and Olivier Boulle

​[1] The French laboratories involved are IRIG/SPINTEC (CEA-CNRS-Université Grenoble Alpes), the Institut Néel (CNRS), and the Charles Coulomb Laboratory (CNRS-Université de Montpellier).
[2] A skyrmion consists of elementary nanomagnets (“spins”) that wind to form a highly stable spiral structure, like a tight knot.
[3] The size of a skyrmion can reach a few nanometres, which is to say approximately a dozen atoms.
[4​] Antiferromagne​tic stacks consist of two nano-sized ferromagnetic layers (such as cobalt) separated by a think non-magnetic layer, with opposite magnetisation.
[5] The SPIN priority research programme and equipment (PEPR) is an exploratory programme in connection with the France 2030 investment plan.

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