Electrical engineers are starting to consider materials made from organic molecules—including those made from carbon atoms—as an intriguing alternative to the silicon and metals used currently in electronic devices, since they are easier and cheaper to produce.
A compound comprising C60 (right), a spherical molecule of carbon atoms, and TDAE (left), tetrakis-dimethylamino-ethylene, is unusual because it can display magnetic behavior at low temperatures. Copyright : 2012 Tohru Sato
A RIKEN-led research team has now demonstrated the origin of magnetism in organic molecules1, a property that is rarely found in this class of material, but is vital if a full range of organic electronic devices is to be created.
The permanent magnetic properties of materials such as iron stem from an intrinsic mechanism called ferromagnetism. Ferromagnetism in organic materials is rare because their atomic structure is fundamentally different from metals. One of the few examples identified to date is called TDAE-C60: a compound comprising spherical carbon cages attached to an organic molecule known as tetrakis-dimethylamino-ethylene. Since its identification in 1991, many theoretical and experimental studies have provided some insight into the mechanism driving this unexpected ferromagnetism, but the explanation was not definitive.
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