Atomic-scale spin-sensing with a single molecule at the apex of a scanning tunneling microscope

Abstract : The study presented in this manuscript is part of the field of surface magnetism, which has undergone major developments in recent years thanks to the scanning tunneling microscope (STM). It aims to show that a single molecule, nickelocene [Ni(C5H5)2], can be attached to the tip of a STM to produce a magnetic probe-tip, which, in the context of magnetic imaging, has undeniable advantages compared to conventional tips. Unlike other molecular systems studied with STM, we show that the magnetic properties of nickelocene in the gas phase are preserved in the presence of a metal, even when the molecule is attached to the tip of a STM. We present three remarkable results with this molecular probe-tip: 1) We show that we can control the spin of nickelocene, activating at will a Kondo effect; 2) We monitor the spin states of nickelocene by producing electrically-driven excitations, which we can easily identify through the molecular conductance. These states are sensitive to the magnetic environment surrounding nickelocene; 3) We use these states to probe surface magnetism. We show that by magnetically coupling the molecular probe tip with single atoms, either isolated or in a ferromagnetic surface, we can measure their spin polarization, as well as the nickelocene-atom exchange coupling. By monitoring this coupling it is possible to obtain a magnetic contrast in the STM images with atomic-scale resolution.
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Benjamin Verlhac. Atomic-scale spin-sensing with a single molecule at the apex of a scanning tunneling microscope. Physics [physics]. Université de Strasbourg, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019STRAE007⟩. ⟨tel-02303489⟩

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