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Jennifer Mackel

Jennifer Mackel

Jennifer joined the CDT in September 2015 having previously completed a Masters in Physics with Astrophysics at Queen's University Belfast.

CDT PhD Project:

Skyrmions in FIBed Single Crystals


Professor Marty Gregg, Queen's University Belfast

Dr Damien McGrouther, University of Glasgow

This project seeks to study a relatively newly discovered state of magnetic order that can form in certain helimagnetic crystals (such as MnSi, or (Fe,Co)Si). Rather than forming into regions, or domains, of fully aligned magnetic diploes as used in conventional magnetic memory, helimagnets can be made to form into ordered lattices of skyrmions. Skyrmions are topologically stable objects in which the orientation of magnetic dipoles around the edges of a disk region reverse in the centre of the disc by continuous rotation through an intermediate dipolar ring state. The properties of skyrmions are only beginning to be examined, but they are being taken seriously as nano-objects capably of acting as magnetic memory elements or even entities through which logic operations can be performed.

Combining expertise in Glasgow, QUB and TUD (Technical University in Dresden) such as focused ion beam sample preparation, low-temperature MFM and Lorentz TEM, we will examine how skyrmion lattices can be stabilised in thin films and nanostructures and the extent to which their motion and position can be altered by nanoscale geometry and interaction with spin-polarised currents. The hope and expectation is that a realistic assessment of the likely role that skyrmions might have in future possible magnetic memory and logic processing devices can be made.

This project represents an excellent opportunity to bring together three universities while investigating a potentially new avenue of magnetic data storage, simultaneously working towards the CDT’s goals of furthering magnetic materials research and fostering collaboration in the scientific community.