Hitting the limit of magnetic anisotropy

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  30 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6187, pp. 976-977
DOI: 10.1126/science.1254402

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Log in to view the full text

Log in through your institution

Log in through your institution


Single magnetic atoms adsorbed on surfaces, or so-called adatoms, provide a viable ground for realizing information storage and processing at ultimate length scales (13). Such concepts hinge on the magnetic anisotropy energy (MAE), which energetically favors a preferential spatial orientation of the adatom's magnetic moment m, where m is the sum of coupled spin and orbital momenta. Unlike for a free atom, where m can rotate freely in any direction without energy cost (see the figure, panel A, MAE = 0), large MAE (panel B, MAE ≠ 0) enables m to maintain a fixed orientation for a sufficient amount of time. For stable and robust magnetic memory storage, large values of MAE are desirable. On page 988 of this issue, Rau et al. (4) show that a suitable choice of substrate and adatom pairing can result in the further enhancement of MAE, thus providing a possible route toward realizing information storage at the atomic scale.