Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Molecular chains hypersensitive to magnetic fields

05.07.2013
Nanoscientists Twente, Strasbourg and Eindhoven publish in top scientific journal Science

Researchers of MESA+, the research institute for nanotechnology of the University of Twente, in cooperation with researchers of the University of Strasbourg and Eindhoven University of Technology, are the first to successfully create perfect one-dimensional molecular wires of which the electrical conductivity can almost entirely be suppressed by a weak magnetic field at room temperature.


A conducting-probe atomic force microscope (CP-AFM) measures the electrical conduction of aromatic molecules, DXP, aligned within the channels of a zeolite crystal on top of a conducting substrate. The channels have a maximum diameter of 1.26 nanometer and an entrance diameter of only 0.71 nanometer; the DXP molecules have the same width as the channel entrances and a length of 2.2 nanometers. Therefore, the entrapped molecules are all aligned along the zeolite channel axis, forming perfectly one-dimensional molecular wires. The zoom-in shows a DXP molecule confined in a zeolite channel. The IUPAC chemical name of DXP is N,N'-bis(2,6-dimethylphenyl)-perylene-3,4,9,10-tetracarboxylic diimide.

Credit: MESA+


Zeolite L is an electrically insulating aluminosilicate crystalline system, which consists of many channels running through the whole crystal and oriented parallel to the cylinder axis. The geometrical constraints of the zeolite host structure allow for the formation of one-dimensional chains of highly uniaxially oriented molecules.

Credit: MESA+

The underlying mechanism is possibly closely related to the biological compass used by some migratory birds to find their bearings in the geomagnetic field. This spectacular discovery may lead to radically new magnetic field sensors, for smartphones for example. The leading scientific journal Science publishes the research results on 4 July.

In their experiments, the researchers made use of DXP, the organic molecule which is a red dye of the same type as once used by Ferrari for their famous Testarossa. In order to thread the molecules so that they form one-dimensional chains of 30 to 100 nanometers in length - 1 nanometer being 1 billionth of a meter - they applied a smart trick: they locked the molecules in zeolite crystals. Zeolites are porous minerals composed of silicon, aluminum and oxygen atoms with narrow channels, like the lift shafts in a block of flats. The diameter of the channels in the zeolites is only 1 nanometer, just a little wider than the molecule's diameter. This enabled the researchers to create chains of aligned molecules inside the zeolite channel, which are only 1 molecule wide.

Molecular electric wires
The zeolite crystals containing the molecular wires were then placed on an electricity-conductive substrate. By placing a very sharp conductive needle, of an atomic force microscope (AFM), on top of a zeolite crystal, the researchers were able to measure the electrical conductivity in the molecule chains. Professor Wilfred van der Wiel, who developed and led the experiment, says that measuring the electrical conductivity in these molecular electric wires is a unique result in itself. "But the behavior of these wires is simply spectacular when applying a magnetic field," he adds. This is because electrical conductivity nearly completely breaks down in a magnetic field of just a few milliteslas in size, a field which you could easily generate with a refrigerator magnet. Van der Wiel: "The fact that the effect is so dramatic and occurs even in small magnetic fields at room temperature makes this result very special."

Single-lane road

The change in electrical resistance through a magnetic field is called magnetoresistance and is very important in technology. It is also used in hard disk read heads. Usually, magnetic materials are indispensable for creating magnetoresistance. However, the ultra-high magnetoresistance which has been measured in Twente was achieved without any magnetic materials. The researchers ascribe this effect to the interaction between the electrons carrying electricity and the magnetic field which is generated by the surrounding atomic nuclei in the organic molecules. Current suppression in a small magnetic field can ultimately be traced back to the famous Pauli exclusion principle, the quantum mechanical principle that states that no two electrons (fermions) may have identical quantum numbers. Since the electric wires are essentially one-dimensional, the effect of the Pauli exclusion principle is dramatic, comparable to an accident on a single-lane road that brings traffic to a standstill. This interpretation is supported by calculations.

Migratory birds
The mechanism that is responsible for ultra-high magnetoresistance in molecular wires is possibly closely related to the biological compass used by some migratory birds to find their bearings in the geomagnetic field. Researchers of the University of Twente are conducting follow-up experiments in the hope to be able to shed more light on this analogy.

Research

The research has been conducted by scientists of the Chair NanoElectronics of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, in close collaboration with researchers of Eindhoven University of Technology and the University of Strasbourg. On 4 July, the leading scientific journal Science publishes the article 'Ultra-High Magnetoresistance at Room Temperature in Molecular Wires' in which the research results are described in more detail. This research has been made possible by funding from the STW Technology Foundation and the European Union.

Note to the press

For more information, interview requests or a digital copy of the article 'Ultra-High Magnetoresistance at Room Temperature in Molecular Wires', please contact the University of Twente Science Information Officer Joost Bruysters (+31 (0)6 1048 8228) or prof. Wilfred van der Wiel (+31 (0)6 3018 2641).

Joost Bruysters | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.utwente.nl

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists channel graphene to understand filtration and ion transport into cells

Tiny pores at a cell's entryway act as miniature bouncers, letting in some electrically charged atoms--ions--but blocking others. Operating as exquisitely sensitive filters, these "ion channels" play a critical role in biological functions such as muscle contraction and the firing of brain cells.

To rapidly transport the right ions through the cell membrane, the tiny channels rely on a complex interplay between the ions and surrounding molecules,...

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Midwife and signpost for photons

11.12.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

How do megacities impact coastal seas? Searching for evidence in Chinese marginal seas

11.12.2017 | Earth Sciences

PhoxTroT: Optical Interconnect Technologies Revolutionized Data Centers and HPC Systems

11.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>