The work, led by professor of physics Dan Ralph, is published in the June 10 online edition of the journal Science. First author is J.J. Parks, a former graduate student in Ralph’s lab.
The scientists studied particular cobalt-based molecules with so-called intrinsic spin – a quantized amount of angular momentum. Theories first postulated in the 1980s predicted that molecular spin would alter the interaction between electrons in the molecule and conduction electrons surrounding it, and that this interaction would determine how easily electrons flow through the molecule. Before now, these theories had not been tested in detail because of the difficulties involved in making devices with controlled spins.
Understanding single-molecule electronics requires expertise in both chemistry and physics, and Cornell’s team has specialists in both.
“People know about high-spin molecules, but no one has been able to bring together the chemistry and physics to make controlled contact with these high-spin molecules,” Ralph said.
The researchers made their observations by stretching individual spin-containing molecules between two electrodes and analyzing their electrical properties. They watched electrons flow through the cobalt complex, cooled to extremely low temperatures, while slowly pulling on the ends to stretch it. At a particular point, it became more difficult to pass current through the molecule. The researchers had subtly changed the magnetic properties of the molecule by making it less symmetric.
After releasing the tension, the molecule returned to its original shape and began passing current more easily – thus showing the molecule had not been harmed. Measurements as a function of temperature, magnetic field and the extent of stretching gave the team new insights into exactly what is the influence of molecular spin on the electron interactions and electron flow.
The effects of high spin on the electrical properties of nanoscale devices were entirely theoretical issues before the Cornell work, Ralph said. By making devices containing individual high-spin molecules and using stretching to control the spin, the Cornell team proved that such devices can serve as a powerful laboratory for addressing these fundamental scientific questions.
The study was funded primarily by the National Science Foundation.
Blaine Friedlander | Newswise Science News
New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego
Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation
17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.01.2018 | Awards Funding