Publish Date: 11.09.2017

Category: News from the University

Andriy Nych, Jun-ichi Fukuda, Ulyana Ognysta, Slobodan Žumer and Igor Muševič recently published the paper Spontaneous formation and dynamics of half-skyrmions in a chiral liquid-crystal films” in Nature Physics. The publication is a result of a long term collaboration and numerous longer research visits of colleagues from Ukraine (A. Nych in U. Ognysta, Institute of Physics, Kijev) and Japan (J. Fukuda, Kyushu University) at the Lab of I. Muševič and the research group of S. Žumer (Institut Jožef Stefan and University of Ljubljana).

Using a high-precision optical microscope, they discovered that swirl-like structures known as half-Skyrmions are spontaneously formed in thin chiral liquid crystalline films and that at certain temperature they assemble into a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice exhibiting strong fluctuations. With numerical modelling of structures and optical images, they confirmed a spontaneous formation of the skyrmion lattice, predicted several years ago, but until now observed only in chiral magnets and Bose-Einstein condensates. The swirl-like single skyrmion structure is always accompanied by two singular defects to neutralize the skyrmion topological charge. The study gives direct insights in the nature of topological condensed matter, which is one of the hot topics of current material physics research.