Molecular Magnets, magnetism


Molecular magnets are ideal systems to probe the realm that borders quantum and classical physics, as well as to study decoherence phenomena in nanoscale systems. The control of the quantum behavior of these materials and their structural characteristics requires synthesis of new complexes with desirable properties which will allow probing of the fundamental aspects of nanoscale physics and quantum information processing. Of particular interest among the magnetic molecular materials are single-molecule magnets (SMMs) and antiferromagnetic (AFM) molecular wheels in which the spin state of the molecule is known to behave quantum mechanically at low temperatures. In previous experiments the dynamics of the magnetic moment of the molecules is governed by incoherent quantum tunneling. Short decoherence times are mainly due to interactions between molecular magnets within the crystal and interactions of the electronic spin with the nuclear spin of neighboring ions within the molecule. This decoherence problem has imposed a limit to the understanding of the molecular spin dynamics and the sources of decoherence in condensed matter systems. Particularly, intermolecular dipolar interactions within the crystal, which shorten the coherence times in concentrated samples, have stymied progress in this direction. Several recent works have reported a direct measurement of the decoherence time in molecular magnets. This has been done by eliminating the dephasing created by dipolar interactions between neighboring molecules. This has been achieved by a) a dilution of the molecules in a liquid solution to decrease the dipolar interaction by separating the molecules, and b) by polarizing the spin bath by applying a high magnetic field at low temperatures. Unfortunately, both approaches restrict the experimental studies of quantum dynamics. For example, the dilution of molecular magnets in liquid solution causes a dispersion of the molecular spin orientation and anisotropy axes, while the large fields required to polarize the spin bath overcome the anisotropy of the molecular spin. In this thesis I have explored two methods to overcome dipolar interactions in molecular magnets: a) studying the dynamics of molecular magnets in single crystals where the separation between magnetic molecules is obtained by chemical doping or where the high crystalline quality allows observations intrinsic to the quantum mechanical nature of the tunneling of the spin, and b) studying the electronic transport through an individual magnetic molecule which has been carefully placed in a single-electron transistor device. I have used EPR microstrip resonators to measure Fe17Ga molecular wheels within single crystals of Fe18 AFM wheels, as well as demonstrating, for the first time in a Single Molecule Magnet, the complete suppression of a Quantum Tunneling of the Magnetization transition forbidden by molecular symmetry.


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Graduation Date



del Barco, Enrique


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program









Release Date

September 2009

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Included in

Physics Commons