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 Warming ponds could accelerate climate change
21.02.2017 | University of Exeter

nachricht An alternative to opioids? Compound from marine snail is potent pain reliever
21.02.2017 | University of Utah

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Impacts of mass coral die-off on Indian Ocean reefs revealed

21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences

Novel breast tomosynthesis technique reduces screening recall rate

21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering

Use your Voice – and Smart Homes will “LISTEN”

21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>