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Synthetic Expansion of Magnetic Molecules Into Spintronic Devices

Final Report Summary - MOLSPINTRON (Synthetic Expansion of Magnetic Molecules Into Spintronic Devices)

MOLSPINTRON delineates a bottom-up alternative to the current state-of-the-art break-junction approach to single-molecule electronic and spintronic devices. Such molecular devices are expected to deliver a technological boost for future information technology, with the prospect of significantly increased energy efficiency and genuinely novel switching/logic functionality when compared to classical CMOS devices. To harness this potential, we need to access both charge- and spin-transport characteristics of individual magnetic molecules. The challenge here is to contact these molecules in a reproducible manner with atomic precision, both with conducting and non-conducting electrodes.
Our approach exploits the stability and structural versatility of a specific materials platform, namely magnetically functionalized molecular metal oxides (so-called polyoxometalates). Starting from these highly stable molecules, we pre-fabricated these crucial prosthetic contact groups by means of chemical synthesis. In the project we focussed at the contact modes of the most fundamental microelectronic device type, namely a field-effect transistor, requiring both metal-molecule and insulator-molecule contacts that need to meet the molecule's surface at precise positions.
Via novel synthesis strategies and specifically designed glue groups, the project eventually achieved such multiple molecule-electrode contacts that allow contacting discrete molecules in e.g. multi-tip scanning tunneling microscopy. These measurements, for the first time, allow us to assess the correlation of molecular charge and spin states that are at the heart of molecular spintronics and to explore various magnetic molecule-surface interfacial phenomena. The project aimed at bridging the typical nanometer-scaled environments of CMOS structures to the significantly smaller molecular scale, and a string of proof-of-concept results has confirmed the project's working hypotheses and additionally opened other possibilities, e.g. concerning the use of the targeted molecular structures as memristors in artificial neural networks. Finally, the project also resulted in a range of tools, including computational codes, that we will disseminate in the near future.