Atomic-scale control of graphene magnetism by using hydrogen atoms

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Science  22 Apr 2016:
Vol. 352, Issue 6284, pp. 437-441
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad8038

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Hydrogen atom makes graphene magnetic

Graphene has many extraordinary mechanical and electronic properties, but it's not magnetic. To make it so, the simplest strategy is to modify its electronic structure to create unpaired electrons. Researchers can do that by, for example, removing individual carbon atoms or adsorbing hydrogen onto graphene. This has to be done in a very controlled way because of a peculiarity of the graphene's crystal lattice, which consists of two sublattices. Gonzales-Herrero et al. deposited a single hydrogen atom on top of graphene and used scanning tunneling microscopy to detect magnetism on the sublattice lacking the deposited atom (see the Perspective by Hollen and Gupta).

Science, this issue p. 437; see also p. 415


Isolated hydrogen atoms absorbed on graphene are predicted to induce magnetic moments. Here we demonstrate that the adsorption of a single hydrogen atom on graphene induces a magnetic moment characterized by a ~20–millielectron volt spin-split state at the Fermi energy. Our scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) experiments, complemented by first-principles calculations, show that such a spin-polarized state is essentially localized on the carbon sublattice opposite to the one where the hydrogen atom is chemisorbed. This atomically modulated spin texture, which extends several nanometers away from the hydrogen atom, drives the direct coupling between the magnetic moments at unusually long distances. By using the STM tip to manipulate hydrogen atoms with atomic precision, it is possible to tailor the magnetism of selected graphene regions.

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