Atomic-scale magnetic dipolar sensor

Atomic-scale magnetic dipolar sensor using electron spin resonance on surfaces

MARCH, 2017

Taeyoung Choi, William Paul, Steffen Rolf-Pissarczyk, Andrew J. Macdonald, Fabian D. Natterer, Kai Yang, Philip Willke, Susanne Baumann, Arzhang Ardavan, Christopher P. Lutz, and Andreas J. Heinrich
Nature Nanotechnology 12, 420 (2017)


Spin resonance provides the high-energy resolution needed to determine biological and material structures by sensing weak magnetic interactions. In recent years, there have been notable achievements in detecting and coherently controlling individual atomic-scale spin centres for sensitive local magnetometry. However, positioning the spin sensor and characterizing spin-spin interactions with sub-nanometre precision have remained outstanding challenges. Here, we use individual Fe atoms as an electron spin resonance (ESR) sensor in a scanning tunnelling microscope to measure the magnetic field emanating from nearby spins with atomic-scale precision. On artificially built assemblies of magnetic atoms (Fe and Co) on a magnesium oxide surface, we measure that the interaction energy between the ESR sensor and an adatom shows an inverse-cube distance dependence (r-3.01±0.04). This demonstrates that the atoms are predominantly coupled by the magnetic dipole-dipole interaction, which, according to our observations, dominates for atom separations greater than 1 nm. This dipolar sensor can determine the magnetic moments of individual adatoms with high accuracy. The achieved atomic-scale spatial resolution in remote sensing of spins may ultimately allow the structural imaging of individual magnetic molecules, nanostructures and spin-labelled biomolecules.