"Radically" new magnetic materials

Magnetism is a property of matter known by the humankind for several thousand years, long before these properties could be described in a theory. In our everyday life, we are used to “classical magnets” that are metals or rare earth alloys, “hard materials”, such as the magnets decorating our fridge.

Let us imagine a class of materials carrying a magnetic moment, composed only of light elements, for example, carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen. This composition would allow us to  have magnetic moments coupled to useful properties of organic materials, such as transparency, low-cost fabrication, and flexible chemical design. Indeed, this class of materials exists: it is the family of organic radicals. These radicals are organic molecules that carry one unpaired electron, giving rise to a permanent magnetic moment: Therefore, they are materials with permanent magneatic properties, i.e., their magnet moment is not due to an induction effect of an external magnetic field, such as in diamagnetism. Organic radicals are very promising materials for electronics and quantum technologies.

This idea is based on a new approach towards spins in organic materials. We have demonstrated the controlled evaporation and deposition of several  radicals, investigating the interface, the surface and the magnetic properties of the assemblies, addressing also issues like growth modes and vacuum stability interesting for future technological applications.

We think that this is the beginning of a very attractive development not only for basic research but also for technology more info here.


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