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A nano-magnet made of carbon

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Carbon is an abundant element on earth, what makes it particularly appealing for applications. Unfortunately, its use in magnetism and spintronics looked difficult so far because it is intrinsically non magnetic. Researchers of the laboratory ’Quantum Materials and Phenomena’ and ’Physics and Chemistry of Surfaces and Interfaces’ have just shown that the famous C60 molecule can become magnetic when in contact with a magnetic electrode. Beyond the technical challenge, this discovery shows that carbon can become a key element in future devices based on magnetism.

The experiment done in the laboratory ’Quantum Materials and Phenomena’ has been made possible by the development of a Spin Polarized Scanning Tunneling Microscope, what allows to measure the spin properties of single atoms and molecules. Researchers have deposited at low temperature (4 K) C60 molecules on a chromium magnetic surface. By measuring the electronic properties of these molecules on area with alternated magnetization, they have shown, in collaboration with theoreticians from CEA-Saclay, that the molecules became themselves magnetic. Moreover, they have shown that this magnetism was varying with the bias voltage, which is a very interesting property for future applications in nanospintronics devices.

Figure :

3D STM image of C60 molecules deposited on a chromium surface. Colors indicate area of alternate magnetization. The STM tip, chromium substrate and C60 molecule are also schematized.

Contact :

Jérôme Lagoute.

Référence :

Large Magnetoresistance through a Single Molecule due to a Spin-Split Hybridized Orbital.
S.L. Kawahara, J. Lagoute, V. Repain, C. Chacon, Y. Girard, S. Rousset, A. Smogunov, and C. Barreteau, Nanoletters, 12, 4558 (2012)