Sensing the Spin of an Individual Ce Adatom

APRIL, 2020

Markus Ternes, Christopher P. Lutz, Andreas J. Heinrich, and Wolf-Dieter Schneider
Physical Review Letters 124, 167202 (2020)


Some spins on a surface can be measured directly with the scanning tunneling microscope (STM), an effect that we utilize heavily at QNS. Other spins remain silent and cannot be measured directly. In those cases we have to detect their magnetic behavior indirectly. In this work we show that a spin on the tip of the STM can detect such a 'dark' spin. Understanding the interaction between such spins will help researchers at QNS to make more controllable spin systems in the future.


The magnetic moment of rare earth elements originates from electrons in the partially filled 4f orbitals. Accessing this moment electrically by scanning tunneling spectroscopy is hampered by shielding of outerlying orbitals. Here, we show that we can detect the magnetic moment of an individual Ce atom adsorbed on a Cu2N ultrathin film on Cu(100) by using a sensor tip that has its apex functionalized with a Kondo screened spin system. We calibrate the sensor tip by deliberately coupling it to a well characterized Fe atom. Subsequently, we use the splitting of the tip’s Kondo resonance when approaching a spectroscopically dark Ce atom to sense its magnetic moment.