Large Magnetic Anisotropy of a Single Atomic Spin Embedded in a Surface Molecular Network

Science  31 Aug 2007:
Vol. 317, Issue 5842, pp. 1199-1203
DOI: 10.1126/science.1146110

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Magnetic anisotropy allows magnets to maintain their direction of magnetization over time. Using a scanning tunneling microscope to observe spin excitations, we determined the orientation and strength of the anisotropies of individual iron and manganese atoms on a thin layer of copper nitride. The relative intensities of the inelastic tunneling processes are consistent with dipolar interactions, as seen for inelastic neutron scattering. First-principles calculations indicate that the magnetic atoms become incorporated into a polar covalent surface molecular network in the copper nitride. These structures, which provide atom-by-atom accessibility via local probes, have the potential for engineering anisotropies large enough to produce stable magnetization at low temperatures for a single atomic spin.

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