PerspectiveApplied Physics

Pulling Apart Molecular Magnetism

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Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1362-1363
DOI: 10.1126/science.1191411

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Summary

A single molecule constitutes the ultimate nanometer-scale object through which electronic transport can take place. Being so small, molecules share many characteristics with atoms, such as discrete quantized energy spectra and angular momentum, yet at the same time are large enough to be mechanically deformed and chemically attached to metallic leads with which they can exchange electrons. Can these mechanical and exchange interactions be controlled and, if so, what new phenomena arise? On page 1370 of this issue, Parks et al. (1) show how magnetism and quantum many-body phenomena can be tuned by precise mechanical manipulation of single molecules.