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Emergent chirality in a polar meron to skyrmion phase transition

Shao, Y-T and Das, S and Hong, Z and Xu, R and Chandrika, S and Gómez-Ortiz, F and García-Fernández, P and Chen, L-Q and Hwang, HY and Junquera, J and Martin, LW and Ramesh, R and Muller, DA (2023) Emergent chirality in a polar meron to skyrmion phase transition. In: Nature Communications, 14 (1).

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-36950-x


Polar skyrmions are predicted to emerge from the interplay of elastic, electrostatic and gradient energies, in contrast to the key role of the anti-symmetric Dzyalozhinskii-Moriya interaction in magnetic skyrmions. Here, we explore the reversible transition from a skyrmion state (topological charge of −1) to a two-dimensional, tetratic lattice of merons (with topological charge of −1/2) upon varying the temperature and elastic boundary conditions in [(PbTiO3)16/(SrTiO3)16]8 membranes. This topological phase transition is accompanied by a change in chirality, from zero-net chirality (in meronic phase) to net-handedness (in skyrmionic phase). We show how scanning electron diffraction provides a robust measure of the local polarization simultaneously with the strain state at sub-nm resolution, while also directly mapping the chirality of each skyrmion. Using this, we demonstrate strain as a crucial order parameter to drive isotropic-to-anisotropic structural transitions of chiral polar skyrmions to non-chiral merons, validated with X-ray reciprocal space mapping and phase-field simulations.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Nature Communications
Publisher: Nature Research
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to the Authors.
Keywords: boundary condition; mapping method; phase transition; polarization; simulation; temperature effect
Department/Centre: Division of Chemical Sciences > Materials Research Centre
Date Deposited: 02 May 2023 09:12
Last Modified: 02 May 2023 09:12
URI: https://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/81236

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