Hyperfine interaction of individual atoms on a surface

Journal: Science

Published: 2018-10-19

DOI: 10.1126/science.aat7047

Affiliations: 8

Authors: 10

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Research Highlight

Spin of single atomic nuclei measured for first time

© Don Farrall/Getty

© Don Farrall/Getty

Scientists have detected the nuclear magnetism, or nuclear spins, of individual atoms on a surface for the first time. This method is promising as a powerful probe of the chemical environment of individual atoms.

Electrons have a quantum property known as spin, which gives rise to the magnetic properties of a material. Some atomic nuclei also have a net spin; it is this property that is used in magnetic resonance imagining (MRI). But while MRI can detect the spin of a large number of nuclei, until now no one had succeeded in detecting the nuclear spin of a single atom.

Now, by combining a scanning tunneling microscope with measurements of electron spin, researchers at the Institute for Basic Sciences in South Korea have detected the spins of individual iron and titanium atoms on a magnesium oxide surface.

In the future, nuclear spin could be used to store quantum information.

Supported content

  1. Science 362, 336–339 (2018). doi: 10.1126/science.aat7047
Institutions Share
IBM Research - Almaden, United States of America (USA) 0.27
Center for Quantum Nanoscience, IBS, South Korea 0.17
Ewha Womans University (Ewha), South Korea 0.17
International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL), Portugal 0.15
Instituto de Modelado e Innovación Tecnológica (IMIT CONICET-UNNE), Argentina 0.10
University of Oxford, United Kingdom (UK) 0.10
Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich), Switzerland 0.05