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Magnetic vortices come full circle

Magnets often harbor hidden beauty. Take a simple fridge magnet: Somewhat counterintuitively, it is ‘sticky’ on one side but not the other. The secret lies in the way the magnetisation is arranged in a well-defined pattern within the material. More intricate magnetization textures are at the heart of many modern technologies, such as hard disk drives. Now, an international team of scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, ETH Zurich, the University of Cambridge, the Donetsk Institute for Physics and Engineering and the Institute for Numerical Mathematics RAS in Moscow report the discovery of unexpected magnetic structures inside a tiny pillar made of the magnetic material gadolinium cobalt. As they write in a paper published today in the journal Nature Physics, the researchers observed sub-micrometer loop-shaped configurations, which they identified as magnetic vortex rings. Far beyond their aesthetic appeal, these textures might point the way to further complex three-dimensional structures arising in the bulk of magnets, and could one day form the basis for novel technological applications.
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