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Control of single-spin magnetic anisotropy by exchange coupling

Oberg, JC; Calvo, MR; Delgado, F; Moro-Lagares, M; Serrate, D; Jacob, D; Fernández-Rossier, J; (2013) Control of single-spin magnetic anisotropy by exchange coupling. Nature Nanotechnology , 9 (1) pp. 64-68. 10.1038/nnano.2013.264. Green open access

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Abstract

The properties of quantum systems interacting with their environment, commonly called open quantum systems, can be affected strongly by this interaction. Although this can lead to unwanted consequences, such as causing decoherence in qubits used for quantum computation1, it can also be exploited as a probe of the environment. For example, magnetic resonance imaging is based on the dependence of the spin relaxation times of protons2 in water molecules in a host's tissue3. Here we show that the excitation energy of a single spin, which is determined by magnetocrystalline anisotropy and controls its stability and suitability for use in magnetic data-storage devices4, can be modified by varying the exchange coupling of the spin to a nearby conductive electrode. Using scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy, we observe variations up to a factor of two of the spin excitation energies of individual atoms as the strength of the spin's coupling to the surrounding electronic bath changes. These observations, combined with calculations, show that exchange coupling can strongly modify the magnetic anisotropy. This system is thus one of the few open quantum systems in which the energy levels, and not just the excited-state lifetimes, can be renormalized controllably. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the magnetocrystalline anisotropy, a property normally determined by the local structure around a spin, can be tuned electronically. These effects may play a significant role in the development of spintronic devices5 in which an individual magnetic atom or molecule is coupled to conducting leads.

Type: Article
Title: Control of single-spin magnetic anisotropy by exchange coupling
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2013.264
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2013.264
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > London Centre for Nanotechnology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1419008
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