Information technology is partly based on magnetism (memory) and partly on electricity (processors). Increasing control over individual electron charges and spins provides new device functionality. For both charges and spins, molecular devices provide ideal test beds, which have witnessed increased interest over the last decade but the understanding and control of which is still in an infant state. The aim of ELFOS is to take single-molecule electronics to the next level in which single molecule device functionality will be exploited. We will combine different experimental test beds to gain knowledge about molecular functionality with an emphasis on the spin degrees of freedom and how to exploit these in device configurations using electric fields. In information processing, spins have the general advantage over charges in that they are less sensitive to the coupling between the molecule and its environment and hence to the molecular orientation which is difficult to control at the atomic level. Furthermore, the control of molecular spins by electric fields is preferable over magnetic-field or light-driven control since it allows for the application of strong fields at a local scale and for the fast manipulation of spin states. Guided by theoretical studies of radically new concepts, we will manipulate the molecular spin either by controlling the charge states of the molecule by the gate or by the gate directly. The molecules of interest are single-molecule magnets, spin triangles, spin chains and spin-crossover compounds. The experiments should provide an answer to key questions such as: "Can individual magnetic molecules be addressed electrically as bits or qubits?" and "How can they be used as switches?" Applied aspects are long term with high risk and high potential for applications.
Professor at Microtechnology and Nanoscience, Quantum Device Physics
Funding years 2011–2014