Macroscopic Quantum Effects in Nanometer-Scale Magnets

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Science  16 Oct 1992:
Vol. 258, Issue 5081, pp. 414-421
DOI: 10.1126/science.258.5081.414


Quantum tunneling, the passage of a microscopic system from one state to another by way of a classically forbidden path, is theoretically possible in the macroscopic world. One can now make direct observations of such macroscopic quantum tunneling in very small magnetic structures. This is possible because of significant advances both in the ability to obtain magnetic systems of almost any desirable size, shape, and composition and in the development of superconducting instrumentation for the detection of extremely weak magnetic signals. As an example, measurements on magnetic horse spleen ferritin proteins with the predictions of quantum tunneling theory are discussed and shown.