Robust metastable skyrmions and their triangular–square lattice structural transition in a high-temperature chiral magnet
Skyrmions, topologically protected nanometric spin vortices, are being investigated extensively in various magnets. Among them, many structurally chiral cubic magnets host the triangular-lattice skyrmion crystal (SkX) as the thermo- dynamic equilibrium state. However, this state exists only in a narrow temperature and magnetic-field region just below the magnetic transition temperature Tc, while a helical or conical magnetic state prevails at lower temperatures. Here we describe that for a room-temperature skyrmion material, β-Mn-type Co8Zn8Mn4, a field-cooling via the equilibrium SkX state can suppress the transition to the helical or conical state, instead realizing robust metastable SkX states that survive over a very wide temperature and magnetic-field region. Furthermore, the lattice form of the metastable SkX is found to undergo reversible transitions between a conventional triangular lattice and a novel square lattice upon varying the temperature and magnetic field. These findings exemplify the topological robustness of the once-created skyrmions, and establish metastable skyrmion phases as a fertile ground for technological applications.