Electron transport, Ferromagnetic materials, Nanoparticles -- Magnetic properties, Nanostructures -- Magnetic properties, Transistors


Magnetic nanoparticles and molecules, in particular ferromagnetic noble metal nanoparticles, molecular magnet and single-molecule magnets (SMM), are perfect examples to investigate the role of quantum mechanics at the nanoscale. For example, SMMs are known to reverse their magnetization by quantum tunneling in the absence of thermal excitation and show a number of fundamental quantum mechanical manifestations, such as quantum interference effects. On the other hand, noble metal nanoparticles are found to behave ferromagnetically for diameters below a few nanometers. Some of these manifestations are still intriguing, and novel research approaches are necessary to advance towards a more complete understanding of these exciting nanoscale systems. In particular, the ability to study an isolated individual nanoscale system (i.e just one molecule or nanoparticle) is both challenging technologically and fundamentally essential. It is expected that accessing to the energy landscape of an isolated molecule/nanoparticle will allow unprecedented knowledge of the basic properties that are usually masked by collective phenomena when the systems are found in large ensembles or in their crystal form. Several approaches to this problem are currently under development by a number of research groups. For instance, some groups are developing deposition techniques to create patterned thin films of isolated magnetic nanoparticles and molecular magnets by means of optical lithography, low-energy laser ablation, or pulsed-laser evaporation or specific chemical functionalization of metallic surfaces with special molecular ligands. However, it is still a challenge to access the properties of an individual molecule or nanoparticle within a film or substrate. iv I have studied molecular nanomagnets and ferromagnetic noble metal nanoparticles by means of a novel experimental approach that mixes the chemical functionalization of nano-systems with the use of single-electron transistors (SETs). I have observed the Coulomb-blockade single-electron transport response through magnetic gold nanoparticles and single-molecule magnet. In particular, Coulomb-blockade response of a Mn4-based SET device recorded at 240 mK revealed the appearance of two diamonds (two charge states) with a clear switch between one and the other is indicative of a conformational switching of the molecule between two different states. The excitations inside the diamonds move with magnetic field. The curvature of the excitations and the fact of having them not going down to zero energy for zero magnetic field, indicated the presence of magnetic anisotropy (zero-field splitting) in the molecule. In addition, the high magnetic field slope of the excitations indicates that transitions between charge states differ by a net spin value equal to 9 (|∆S| = 9), as expected from the behavior of Mn4 molecules in their crystalline form. Anticrossings between different excitations are indicative of quantum superpositions of the molecular states, which are observed for the first time in transport measurements through and individual SMM.


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Del Barco, Enrique


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences










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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences, Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

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