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Topological defect-mediated skyrmion annihilation in three dimensions

Birch, Max T.; Cortés-Ortuño, David; Khanh, Nguyen D.; Seki, Shinichiro; Štefančič, Aleš; Balakrishnan, Geetha; Tokura, Yoshinori; Hatton, Peter D.

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Max T. Birch

David Cortés-Ortuño

Nguyen D. Khanh

Shinichiro Seki

Aleš Štefančič

Geetha Balakrishnan

Yoshinori Tokura


The creation and annihilation of magnetic skyrmions are mediated by three-dimensional topological defects known as Bloch points. Investigation of such dynamical processes is important both for understanding the emergence of exotic topological spin textures, and for future engineering of skyrmions in technological applications. However, while the annihilation of skyrmions has been extensively investigated in two dimensions, in three dimensions the phase transitions are considerably more complex. We report field-dependent experimental measurements of metastable skyrmion lifetimes in an archetypal chiral magnet, revealing two distinct regimes. Comparison to supporting three-dimensional geodesic nudged elastic band simulations indicates that these correspond to skyrmion annihilation into either the helical and conical states, each exhibiting a different transition mechanism. The results highlight that the lowest energy magnetic configuration of the system plays a crucial role when considering the emergence and stability of topological spin structures via defect-mediated dynamics.


Birch, M. T., Cortés-Ortuño, D., Khanh, N. D., Seki, S., Štefančič, A., Balakrishnan, G., …Hatton, P. D. (2021). Topological defect-mediated skyrmion annihilation in three dimensions. Communications Physics, 4(1),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 13, 2021
Online Publication Date Aug 5, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Nov 16, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 16, 2021
Journal Communications Physics
Electronic ISSN 2399-3650
Publisher Nature Research
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 4
Issue 1


Published Journal Article (3.6 Mb)

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