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Publication# Deformation of the moving magnetic skyrmion lattice in MnSi under electric current flow

Abstract

Topological defects are found ubiquitously in various kinds of matter, such as vortices in type-II superconductors, and magnetic skyrmions in chiral ferromagnets. While knowledge on the static behavior of magnetic skyrmions is accumulating steadily, their dynamics under forced flow is still a widely open issue. Here, we report the deformation of the moving magnetic skyrmion lattice in MnSi under electric current flow observed using small-angle neutron scattering. A spatially inhomogeneous rotation of the skyrmion lattice, with an inverse rotation sense for opposite sample edges, is observed for current densities greater than a threshold value j(t) similar to 1 MA m(-2) (10(6) A m(-2)). Our result show that skyrmion lattices under current flow experience significant friction near the sample edges due to pinning, this being a critical effect that must be considered for anticipated skyrmion-based applications at the nanoscale.

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Electric current

An electric current is a flow of charged particles, such as electrons or ions, moving through an electrical conductor or space. It is defined as the net rate of flow of electric charge through a surf

Topological defect

Topological defects or solitons are irregularities or disruptions that occur within continuous fields or ordered states of matter. These defects, which can take various forms such as points, lines, or

Skyrmion

In particle theory, the skyrmion (ˈskɜrmi.ɒn) is a topologically stable field configuration of a certain class of non-linear sigma models. It was originally proposed as a model of the nucleon by (and

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The discovery of high temperature superconductivity in the cuprates in 1986 has boosted the research in strongly correlated materials. One strong motivation was and stays the understanding the high-Tc phenomenon with the hope that one can ultimately engineer new materials with even higher Tc. Besides the in-depth investigation of cuprates, there is a strong tendency in the solid state community to find new superconductors, which by themselves are interesting for applications, or by their properties they can contribute to the understanding of the high-Tc phenomenon. The program of my doctoral thesis was three-fold: i) to address one important issue in the cuprate superconductors, that of the role of homogeneity in the underdoped part of the phase diagram; ii) what is the effect of disorder in MgB2 superconductor, which has high potentials for applications; iii) to discover new superconductors in the family of transition metal dichalcogenides. All these materials are in some sense unconventional superconductors. The cuprates by their high Tc and the symmetry of the order parameter, MgB2 by its two-band superconductivity and Tc of 39 K, and the dichalcogenides by the appearance of superconductivity on the background of competing interactions. Measurements of transport properties, such as resistivity and thermoelectric power, were used to get insight in the behavior of these materials. Besides temperature as variable, I applied high pressure, extreme magnetic fields and controlled disorder introduced by fast electron irradiation. In the first part I present the pressure dependent study of two members of the transition metal dichalcogenides having 1T structure, 1T-TiSe2 and 1T-TaS2, where superconductivity was never observed in a pristine sample. 1T-TiSe2 has a CDW phase below 220 K which origin, weather it is driven by an excitonic mechanism or by a Jahn-Teller distortion, is an ongoing question. By applying pressure I showed that the pristine sample is superconducting in the pressure range of 2.0–4.0 GPa. This range remarkably coincides with the short range fluctuating CDW before its disappearance at the upper pressure value. If CDW is due to excitonic interactions than our observations suggest that it can be at the origin of superconductivity, as well. The second dichalcogenide is the 1T-TaS2, where a Mott-insulator phase appears on the top of a commensurate CDW. By applying pressure I was able to melt that Mott-phase, and reveal that the material is superconducting above 2.5 GPa with Tc of 5.9 K. Unexpectedly, superconductivity is born from a nonmetallic phase, and stays remarkably stable up to the highest applied pressure of 24 GPa. In the second part I tried to give my contribution to the field of high-Tc superconductors. I carefully selected few high quality underdoped Bi2Sr2PrxCa1-xCu2O8-δ sample, to address the nature of the low temperature ground state by applying high magnetic field. Although former measurements by other groups showed that at high underdoping, the ground state is an insulator, I found that a sample with as low Tc as 15 K exhibits metallic behavior up to 60 T. Furthermore, I showed that a inhomogeneous distribution of the doping atoms can completely mask the intrinsic normal state of a high-Tc superconductor. In the last part of my thesis I focused on the two-band superconductor MgB2 by studying the scattering between the bands by the means of the Matthiessen's rule. I made a systematic study of the influence of defects created by fast electron irradiation, and found that the the Matthiessen's rule is satisfied for the defect concentration range I induced. I further compare the influence of defects on the critical temperature and the residual resistivity in MgB2 with superconductors with various order parameters, and found that the decrease-rate of Tc in our system is within the range of a response of a superconductor with an s-wave order parameter.

This Ph.D. thesis is focused on the numerical modelling of high-Tc superconductors (HTS) at the operating temperature of 77 K (liquid nitrogen). The purpose of numerical modelling is to precisely calculate the current and field distributions inside HTS devices (tapes, cables) and the corresponding AC losses, which are one of the most important limiting factors for a large-scale application of such materials. From the electrical point of view, superconductors are characterized by a strongly non-linear voltage-current relation, which defines the transition from superconducting to normal state. In the case of HTS, the steepness of this transition is smoother than for low-Tc superconductors (LTS), so that the commonly used critical state model (CSM) gives a too simplified representation of their electromagnetic behaviour and can be used for a qualitative description only. In this thesis the finite element method (FEM) has been used for precisely computing the current and field distributions as well as for evaluating the AC losses in HTS devices. The superconducting transition is modelled with a power-law relation, E(J) = Ec(J/Jc)n, which is derived from the fit of transport measurements. Firstly, the results obtained with the software package FLUX3D on multi-filamentary tapes have been validated by means of a comparison with the ones obtained by another software package (FLUX2D). The results from FLUX2D, having already been successfully compared with experimental measurements within the framework of two previous Ph.D. theses at LANOS, have been used as reference. Secondly, two power-law models, which take into account the spatial variation of the critical current density inside HTS tapes and its strongly anisotropic dependence on the magnetic field, have been implemented in FLUX3D. In most cases, this latter dependence is extremely important, since the transport capacity of the superconductor is considerably reduced (and its power loss sensibly increased) by the presence of a magnetic field. Afterwards, FEM modelling of HTS tapes has been extended to cables. HTS cables are in general composed by different layers of several tapes and have a quite complex three-dimensional structure: in fact, the layers are wound around a central cylindrical support with different pitch lengths and relative winding orientations, in order to obtain a uniform repartition of the transport current among the layers, which minimizes the total AC losses. For overcoming the difficulties of a direct 3D FEM simulation, a simple electrical model, which allows to find the optimal pitch lengths and whose results are the input data for a 2D FEM evaluation of the AC losses, has been developed. FEM computations have also been used to investigate the influence of the non-uniformity of the tape properties (contact resistance, critical current, power index) on the global loss performance of a single-layer HTS cable. As an alternative to FEM computations, an equivalent circuit model of HTS cables has been utilized. It describes the cable from the macroscopic point of view and allows to compute the current repartition among the layers and the corresponding AC losses, without the necessity of having detailed information about individual tapes. In the framework of the European project BIG-POWA, I have collaborated to the assembling process of a HTS power-link at the Pirelli Labs, in the Milan region, Italy. Finally, 3D simulations have been performed to extensively study the coupling effect between two superconducting filaments via the resistive matrix, which is a typical case where analytical solutions exist for very peculiar geometries and physical conditions only. FEM simulations have been utilized to study the dependence of the filament coupling on the physical and geometrical parameters of the conductors.

Joseph Duron, Bertrand Dutoit, Francesco Grilli

For describing the E-J relation of high-Tc superconductors (HTS) in power applications, where the applied current I is generally limited by Ic, the critical state model, a piecewise linear generalization, or a simple power-law of the type E=Ec(J/Jc)^n are most often used. The power-law cannot be used for modelling the E-J relation with I>>I_c due to the unbound exponential increase of the electric field for currents above Ic, while in reality the non-linear HTS resistivity is limited by its normal state value. This paper presents a modified E-J model for describing the V-I characteristic of HTS tapes with applied currents largely exceeding Ic. This model is based on the power-law in combination with a parallel metallic branch and has a limited resistivity - the HTS one in the normal state. It can be used for black-box modelling of superconductors in a unlimited current range, as well as for numerical modelling of superconducting devices, which can be operated at currents far exceeding Ic; for example fault-current limiters or cables with over-critical current excursions. The model has been tested in a simple numerical implementation and the modified power-law has been implemented in finite element method simulations. It is shown that for bulk material with currents above 1.3-2Ic$ (depending on the n-value), the usual power-law results in excessive AC loss estimation.

2004