Mechanical Control of Spin States in Spin-1 Molecules and the Underscreened Kondo Effect

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Science  11 Jun 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5984, pp. 1370-1373
DOI: 10.1126/science.1186874

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The ability to make electrical contact to single molecules creates opportunities to examine fundamental processes governing electron flow on the smallest possible length scales. We report experiments in which we controllably stretched individual cobalt complexes having spin S = 1, while simultaneously measuring current flow through the molecule. The molecule’s spin states and magnetic anisotropy were manipulated in the absence of a magnetic field by modification of the molecular symmetry. This control enabled quantitative studies of the underscreened Kondo effect, in which conduction electrons only partially compensate the molecular spin. Our findings demonstrate a mechanism of spin control in single-molecule devices and establish that they can serve as model systems for making precision tests of correlated-electron theories.

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