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Surface-grafted metallofullerene molecular magnets with controllable alignment of magnetic moments

Project description

New approaches revolutionise magnetic control in single-molecule magnets

Single molecule magnets (SMMs) retain magnetisation without a magnetic field, but their use in molecular spintronics is limited by surface deposition and addressing spins at a single molecular level. The ERC-funded GraM3 project will address these issues by designing SMMs based on endohedral metallofullerenes (EMFs) with anchoring groups. Such materials exhibit strong magnetic anisotropy and ferromagnetic exchange interactions within clusters and long zero-field relaxation times, enabling control over individual spin states. Researchers will apply three strategies to control magnetic moments in these materials: EMF deposition via sublimation, EMF exohedral modification with anchoring groups and photoswitchable unit introduction into anchoring groups. Various techniques including spin-polarised scanning tunnelling microscopy will be used to study the magnetic behaviour of surface-grafted SMMs.


The molecules retaining their magnetization in the absence of magnetic field are known as single molecule magnets (SMMs). Important problems to be solved on the way to the applications of SMMs in molecular spintronics is their deposition on surfaces and addressing their spins on the single molecular level. In this project we will address these problems by designing SMMs based on endohedral metallofullerenes (EMFs) derivatized with anchoring groups. SMM behaviour recently discovered for DySc2N@C80 and Dy2ScN@C80 in PI’s group is governed by a strong magnetic anisotropy (magnetic moments of Dy ions are aligned along the Dy–N bonds) and ferromagnetic exchange interactions between Dy ions within the clusters. Protected by the carbon cages, these SMMs exhibit uniquely long zero-field relaxation times of several hours at 2 K and provide an ideal system for addressing the individual spin states. Spatial orientation of magnetic moments in EMF-SMMs is determined by the endohedral cluster and is therefore influenced by the orientation of the EMFs molecules and their internal dynamics. We will apply three strategies to control the spatial arrangement of the magnetic moments in EMF-SMMs: (i) deposition of EMF molecules via sublimation; (ii) exohedral modification of EMFs with anchoring groups for grafting of EMFs on surfaces; (iii) introducing photoswitchable units into the anchoring groups which can reversibly change their geometry upon impact of light and will allow switching direction of the magnetic moment in a fully controllable way. Magnetic behaviour of the surface-grafted SMMs will be studied by bulk- and surface-sensitive techniques including X-ray magnetic circular dichroism and especially spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy. Successful fulfillment of the objectives of this interdisciplinary high-risk/high-gain project will revolutionize the field of the surface molecular magnetism by allowing the study and control of the SMMs on a single spin level.

Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 1 912 181,00
01069 Dresden

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Sachsen Dresden Dresden, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 1 912 181,00

Beneficiaries (1)