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Magnetic Adatom Induced Skyrmion-Like Spin Texture in Surface ElectronWaves


When a foreign atom is placed on a surface of a metal, the surrounding sea of electrons responds by screening the additional charge leading to oscillations or ripples. On surfaces, those electrons are sometimes confined to two-dimensional surface states, whose spin-degeneracy is lifted due to the Rashba effect arising from the spin-orbit interaction of electrons and the inversion asymmetric environment. It is believed that at least for a single adatom scanning tunneling microscopy measurements are insensitive to the Rashba splitting; i.e., no signatures in the charge oscillations will be observed. Resting on scattering theory, we demonstrate that, if magnetic, one single adatom is enough to visualize the presence of the Rashba effect in terms of an induced spin magnetization of the surrounding electrons exhibiting a twisted spin texture described as superposition of two Skyrmionic waves of opposite chirality.

Data: Samir Lounis, Andreas Bringer and Stefan Blügel, Forschungszentrum Jülich (PGI and IAS)
Visualization: Helmut Schumacher, Forschungszentrum Jülich, JSC