This sequence of images, taken from the work of Iwasaki and co-workers3, shows snapshots of the creation process based on the injection of an in-plane electrical current pulse into a ferromagnetic nanoscale strip with a notch. At time zero (a), all spins in the interior of the track point out of the plane (blue), while at the edges the spins possess an in-plane orientation (white) due to a subtle balance of the different magnetic interactions at play in the material. The electrical current pulse induces a spin-transfer torque, which pushes the spin configuration at the notch into the interior of the stripe (b–d) and creates a region with a spin component of opposite out-of-plane orientation (red). With time, this region grows and then detaches from the notch. A skyrmion is created (e,f). Now, low currents can move the skyrmion along the track. A repulsive force from the edges confines the skyrmion to the stripe of magnetic material and the polarity of the current determines the direction of motion. A large current pulse can then annihilate the skyrmion at will. It provides sufficient energy such that the skyrmion can overcome the repulsion at the boundary and merges into the edge.