Physicists show skyrmions can exist in ferroelectrics

(Nanowerk News) New theoretical physics research shows that swirling particles known as skyrmions, which have been found in magnetic systems, can also exist in ferroelectrics.
An international team of physicists, led by University of Arkansas postdoctoral research associates Yousra Nahas and Sergei Prokhorenko, published its findings in Nature Communications ("Discovery of stable skyrmionic state in ferroelectric nanocomposites"), an online journal published by the journal Nature. The study has also been highlighted in Nature Physics.
Nahas said the discovery of these electrical skyrmions was challenging because ferroelectrics lack certain interactions that are usually thought to be necessary for stabilizing skyrmions in magnetic systems.
“Skyrmions have been extensively investigated in magnets but not in ferroelectrics,” said Laurent Bellaiche, Distinguished Professor of physics at the University of Arkansas. “In this study, we demonstrated that the stabilized electrical skyrmion can be as small as a few nanometers, revealing prospective skyrmion-based applications of ferroelectric nanocomposites.”
Ferroelectrics convert changes in mechanical energy into electrical energy and vice versa. These changes are known as a piezoelectric response and are used in a wide range of applications that include cell phones and heart implants.
The results were obtained through a collaborative effort with Igor Kornev, a former U of A research professor now at Ecole Centrale Paris. Two recent U of A physics doctoral graduates also contributed to the study – Zhigang Gui, now at the University of Delaware, and Lydie Louis, now at the University of Connecticut.
Source: University of Arkansas
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