What’s a Hedgehog Got to Do with Condensed Matter Physics?

What’s a Hedgehog Got to Do with Condensed Matter Physics?

Skyrmions were first proposed by Tony Skyrme in his 1962 paper “ A Unified Field Theory of Mesons and Baryons ” for the journal Nuclear Physics. Skyrme’s model described the nucleus in terms of pions’ quantum field with inherent “ twists ” (represented by the skyrmions), and the number of such twists corresponded to the number of baryons. The magnetic effects from skyrmions can demonstrate chirality, or not identical to their own mirror image, and are evident according to two different configurations: cycloidal (a) or helical (b). “Hedgehog skyrmions” are cycloidal and achiral; this configuration is also referred to as the “Néel-type” after French physicist Louis Néel. Due in part to their topological stability, skyrmions are predicted to be particularly well-suited for future data storage and computing applications , as well as optics and photonics research.

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