Giant enhancement of the skyrmion stability in a chemically strained helimagnet
Date & Facts
We employed small-angle neutron scattering to demonstrate that the magnetic skyrmion lattice can be realized in bulk chiral magnets as a thermodynamically stable state at temperatures much lower than the ordering temperature of the material. This is in the regime where temperature fluctuations become completely irrelevant to the formation of the topologically nontrivial magnetic texture. In this attempt we focused on the model helimagnet MnSi, in which the skyrmion lattice was previously well characterized and shown to exist only in a very narrow phase pocket close to the Curie temperature of 29.5 K. We revealed that large uniaxial distortions caused by the crystal-lattice strain in MnSi result in stabilization of the skyrmion lattice in magnetic fields applied perpendicular to the uniaxial strain at temperatures as low as 5 K. To study the bulk chiral magnet subjected to a large uniaxial stress, we have utilized micrometer-sized single-crystalline inclusions of MnSi naturally found inside single crystals of the nonmagnetic material Mn11Si19. The reciprocal-space imaging allowed us to unambiguously identify the stabilization of the skyrmion state over the competing conical spin spiral.