Single Molecule Spintronics

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Physics


Most information processing devices, including state of the art microchips, rely on the movement of charge. However, electrons as well as possessing charge also have the quantum mechanical property called spin, which is responsible for magnetic phenomena, for example. Devices which rely on the movement of spin to perform their function are known as magnetoelectronic or spintronic devices. Spintronic applications could include ultra-fast switches or combined logic / storage devices.Recent theoretical studies predict that organic molecules would make excellent components for spintronic devices (Rocha et al., Nature Materials, 2005). Therefore, to measure the spin transport properties of organic molecules is an extremely important goal. We have recently shown that a high resolution probe microscope (a scanning tunnelling microscope or 'STM') can be used to measure the electrical properties of single molecules in a wide variety of environments, including solutions. We propose to adapt these methods to measure the spintronic properties of organic molecular wires down to the single molecule level for the first time. This will contribute to the scientific understanding of how spin is transported through molecules.


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Sadler JE (2011) Surface functionalization of electro-deposited nickel. in Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP

Description This project enabled us to develop the necessary experimental techniques for single-molecule measurements using the STM break-junction approach. These will be exploited in future research. The project also found a new in-situ electrochemical method of functionalizing an oxide-free Ni surface with octanethiol. Initial adsorption results in a multilayer molecular film, which blocks both the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and re-oxidation of the Ni by ambient oxygen . However, excess octanethiol can be removed by rinsing with ethanol, leaving behind a monolayer that continues to protect against re-oxidation but gives rise to an unexpected enhancement in the HER, with a greater enhancement for longer film formation times
Exploitation Route The findings were taken forward in a subsequent EPSRC grant 'In-situ Electrochemical Fabrication of Single Molecule Spintronic Junctions' which has generated exciting results.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Chemicals,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Electronics,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Pharmaceuticals and Medical Biotechnology

Description The results of this project have underpinned subsequent research which will contribute to the development of molecular electronic devices, probably on a 10-year plus timescale. It also led directly to a scientific exchange with Argentina.
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Description International Joint Project: Self-assembled monolayers on ferromagnetic Ni
Amount £11,900 (GBP)
Organisation The Royal Society 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2006 
End 01/2011
Description UK/China Nanospintronics: In-situ Electrochemical Fabrication of Single Molecule Spintronic Junctions
Amount £191,291 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H002227/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2010 
End 02/2014
Description Argentina thiols 
Organisation University of La Plata
Country Argentina 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Preparation of electrodeposited Ni films
Collaborator Contribution Complementary experimental work and characterization by XPS
Impact Publication, reported elsewhere
Start Year 2007