Friday, June 24

UA researchers discover the strongest nano-magnet

One of the UA researchers, Ricardo Ortíz

One of the UA researchers, Ricardo Ortíz

Researchers from the University of Alicante, in collaboration with counterparts from Switzerland, Germany, Portugal and Japan, have achieved synthesize and understand the properties of a new type of nanographenes, obtaining the largest magnetic interactions found to date in this type of system.

The contribution of the UA researchers Ortiz Cano, Sancho García and Fernández Rossier, consists in the development of theoretical-computational models to better understand the magnetic properties indicated.

The result allows to manufacture nanomagnets to its use in a multitude of magnetic devices.

Comparison of the molecular structure where the two images on the right show the magnetism studied by the UA researchers

The authors explain that, although the properties of any molecule are determined by its chemical composition, in this case exclusively carbon (C) and hydrogen (H) atoms as occurs in graphene itself, the global shape of the molecule seems contribute more exotic and interesting properties.

Starting from a benzene ring as an elemental unit, of chemical composition C6H6 and shaped like a hexagon, the existing combinations to join several hexagons together lead to a multitude of geometric shapes.

Graphene would simply be the union of infinite hexagons in a plane, but any intermediate shape between those limits (one or infinite hexagons) has different properties and, sometimes, varies remarkably from one molecule to another.

Until now, triangular or rhomboidal shaped molecules exclusively made of C and H have defied any attempt at discovery, being highly reactive and therefore highly unstable as a consequence of their zigzag edges. This type of edge makes it very difficult to synthesize or manufacture it.

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However, through a novel procedure on gold (Au) or copper (Cu) surfaces, at high temperatures and also using techniques such as tunneling microscopy to control and direct the order of the atoms, the researchers involved in this study have managed to isolate and measure the properties of this type of molecules by turning an obstacle (reactivity) into a virtue (magnetic properties).

From this combination of advanced microscopy techniques with computational models, the team of scientists has found that the magnitude of the magnetic interactions of electrons in rhombus-shaped nanographs reaches values ​​that allow the design of applications that work at room temperature and, therefore, therefore, of possible daily utility.

These include switches or molecular sensors with a size of 1 nanometer, that is, 10 million times smaller than a centimeter, opening multiple future possibilities in the field of nanotechnology.

The international and multidisciplinary team of researchers include researchers Ricardo Ortiz Cano, from the Department of Applied Physics; Juan Carlos Sancho García, belonging to the Department of Physical Chemistry and the University Institute of Materials (IUMA); and Joaquín Fernández Rossier, from the Department of Applied Physics and International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL).

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