Research ArticlePHYSICS

Entropy-limited topological protection of skyrmions

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 9, e1701704
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701704


Magnetic skyrmions are topologically protected whirls that decay through singular magnetic configurations known as Bloch points. We used Lorentz transmission electron microscopy to infer the energetics associated with the topological decay of magnetic skyrmions far from equilibrium in the chiral magnet Fe1−xCoxSi. We observed that the lifetime τ of the skyrmions depends exponentially on temperature, Embedded Image. The prefactor τ0 of this Arrhenius law changes by more than 30 orders of magnitude for small changes of the magnetic field, reflecting a substantial reduction of the lifetime of skyrmions by entropic effects and, thus, an extreme case of enthalpy-entropy compensation. Such compensation effects, being well known across many different scientific disciplines, affect topological transitions and, thus, topological protection on an unprecedented level.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text