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Seminar: Magnetic Skyrmions and the Quest to use Topological Solitons for Nanocomputing

Event Details:

  • Date:       Monday 24 June 2019
  • Time:      Starts: 16:00
  • Venue:    The Cyprus Institute – Guy Ourisson Building, Seminar Room, 1st Floor, Athalassa Campus
  • Speaker: Dr Christoforos Moutafis, Lecturer, School of Computer Science, University of Manchester
The seminar will be in English and the event is open to the public.


Magnetic skyrmions are quasi-particle nanoscale magnetic spin configurations with a whirling vortex-like spin structure (Fig. 1a) with distinct topological properties [1,2] and intriguing dynamics [3,4]. The recent demonstrations from various groups of room temperature chiral skyrmions and their dynamical response are a first step for controlling their behaviour. Their ultra-small size, ability to move with low electrical current densities and robustness makes them excellent candidates for integration in next generation spintronics devices. In practice, chiral skyrmions can arise due to the interplay between the anisotropy and long-range dipolar energy with the short-range symmetric Heisenberg and antisymmetric Dzyaloshinskii-Moriya (DMi) exchange interactions [1,2].

skyrmion and antiskyrmion spin

Figure 1 A (a) Néel type skyrmion and (b) an antiskyrmion spin configuration.

They can span from tens of nanometers in diameter, behaving as classical quasi-particles exhibiting large inertia [4], down to the ~1 nanometer size. They are endowed with topological protection that can, practically, make them robust with enhanced tolerance to material defects present in devices. Recently, chiral skyrmions (sub-100nm) have been observed at room temperature in technologically relevant multilayers, confined in nanostructures, e.g. [5,6]. In fact, nanomagnets, can host a plethora of skyrmionics spin configurations that can also behave as quasi-particles (e.g. Fig. 1b)). Any possible integration in skyrmionic devices will necessarily involve controlled nucleation/generation and propagation of skyrmions, which is an active research topic e.g. [7,8]. A next step towards the development of skyrmionic devices is to shed light on the mechanisms of creation/destruction of topological charge in defects, which are present in realistic systems [9]. Such objects, like the prominent magnetic skyrmions, are promising candidates for future next generation devices with diverse functionality such as memory [2], Boolean computing [10], stochastic computing [11], reservoir computing [12], biomimetic and artificial neuronal behavior and as components in spiking neural networks hardware [13-15]. 

[1] N. Nagaosa and Y. Tokura, Nat. Nanotech. 8, 899 (2013).
[2] A. Fert, V. Cros, and J. Sampaio, Nature Nanotechnology 8, 152 (2013).
[3] C. Moutafis, S. Komineas, J.A.C. Bland, Physical Review B 79, 224429 (2009).
[4] F. Büttner, C. Moutafis, et al., Nature Physics 11, 225 (2015).
[5] C. Moreau-Luchaire, C. Moutafis, et al., Nature Nanotechnology 11, 444 (2016).
[6] O. Boulle, J. Vogel, et al., Nature Nanotechnology 11, 449 (2016).
[7] S. Woo, K. Litzius, et al., Nature Materials, 15, 501 (2016).
[8] W. Legrand,…, C. Moutafis, et al., Nano Letters, 17 (4), 2703 (2017).
[9] L. Pierobon, C. Moutafis, Y. Li, J. F. Löffler, M. Charilaou, Scientific Reports, 8, 16675 (2018).
[10] M. Chauwin, …, C. Moutafis, J. S. Friedman (2018).
[11] D. Pinna, F.A. Araujo, et al., Phys. Rev. Appl. 9, 064018 (2018).
[12] D. Prychynenko, M. Sitte, et al., Phys. Rev. Appl. 9, 014034 (2018).
[13] S. Li, W. Kang, et al., Nanotechnology 28, 31LT01 (2017).
[14] Y. Huang, W. Kang, et al., Nanotechnology 28, 1 (2017).
[15] T. Bhattacharya, S. Li, Y. Huang, W. Kang, W. Zhao and M. Suri, IEEE Access, 7, 5034 (2019).


About The Speaker

c moutafisDr Moutafis is currently a lecturer at the School of Computer Science, University of Manchester, and a visiting professor at the Laboratory for Metal Physics and Technology, Materials Department, ETH Zurich. He was previously a post-doctoral researcher at the Swiss Light Source (SLS), Paul Scherrer Institute, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and the University of Konstanz.

Dr Moutafis holds a PhD in Physics from the Physics Department, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge.

His research is in the field of spintronics and skyrmionics using an array for computational and experimental / X-ray techniques with a focus on  study of nanoscale topological quasi-particles, like the magnetic skyrmion, and how to use them for nanocomputing and neuromorphics in order to enable A.I. applications.


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Additional Info

  • Date: Wednesday 24 June 2019
  • Time: Starts: 16:00
  • Speaker: Dr. Thomas Tarenzi
  • Speaker Position: Former HPC-LEAP PhD fellow

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