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Magnetic skyrmions are topologically stable spin swirls with a particle-like character and are potentially suitable for the design of high-density information bits. Although most known skyrmion systems arise in non-centrosymmetric systems with a Dzyaloshinskii–Moriya interaction, centrosymmetric magnets with a triangular lattice can also give rise to skyrmion formation, with a geometrically frustrated lattice being considered essential in this case. Until now, it remains an open question if skyrmions can also exist in the absence of both geometrically frustrated lattice and inversion symmetry breaking. Here we discover a square skyrmion lattice state with 1.9 nm diameter skyrmions in the centrosymmetric tetragonal magnet GdRu2Si2 without a geometrically frustrated lattice by means of resonant X-ray scattering and Lorentz transmission electron microscopy experiments. A plausible origin of the observed skyrmion formation is four-spin interactions mediated by itinerant electrons in the presence of easy-axis anisotropy. Our results suggest that rare-earth intermetallics with highly symmetric crystal lattices may ubiquitously host nanometric skyrmions of exotic origins.

Nature Nanotechnology: