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Discovery of Polar Vortices Could Enable Various Advanced Technologies

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 08:15AM

On all scales of Nature, it is possible to find vortices in some form, and some can be more useful than others. Researchers at Berkeley Lab have discovered polar vortices in a ferroelectric material for the first time, after being predicted over a decade ago. These vortices could be similar to so-called skyrmions and could be used to create some advanced technologies.

Skyrmions are vortices that can be created within ferromagnetic materials when properly exposed to an external magnetic field. These vortices can then be moved around across macroscopic distances, making them quite interesting for spintronic applications. By applying an external electric field to a specially prepared ferroelectric material, the researchers were able to create what look like electrical skyrmions. The material was comprised of lead titanate and strontium titanate with a superlattice that had elastic, electrostatic, and gradient energies competing with each other. This competition is what allows the polar vortices to form.

If it turns out the vortices are effectively electrical skyrmions then we could see them used for ultracompact data storage and processing. They could also lead to discovering new states of matter, which this actually already is, and many other applications depending on how our understanding of the phenomenon evolves.

Source: Berkeley Lab

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