Scientific Highlights

1 October 2019
Magnetic hysteresis of DyPc2/MgO

Understanding the Superior Stability of Single-Molecule Magnets on an Oxide Film

A research team centered at the X-Treme beam line at the Swiss Light Source has demonstrated that spin-phonon coupling plays a major role in enhancing the magnetic stability of so-called lanthanide phthalocyanine double decker single-molecule magnets. This understanding is important in order to employ such molecules in future spintronics applications.

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23 March 2019

Photoswitching in a Molecular Cube

Niéli’s paper is accepted in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters! We use X-ray absorption spectroscopy and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism to watch directly how the Co and Fe ions in a molecular cube change their oxidation states and turn from diamagnetic into paramagnetic units upon light irradiation.

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20 February 2019
Scheme of the XMCD mechanism and example spectrum.

New Method for Calculating Soft X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism Spectra

Scientists have demonstrated in a combined theoretical and experimental effort that the new ligand-field density functional theory method (LF-DFT) can be used to calculate the X-ray absorption spectra (XAS) and X-ray magnetic circular dichroism (XMCD) of lanthanide compounds from purely structural input.

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30 May 2018
Scheme of XMCD measurements with different detection methods

Revealing a Living-Dead Magnetic Layer

A peculiar magnetic “dead layer” is detected at the surface of thin films of DyTiO3, a ferrimagnetic Mott insulator. Depth dependent X-ray absorption measurements performed at the X-Treme beamline in the Swiss Light Source indicate that this layer is associated with a deviation of the Ti valence from 3+ toward 4+ at the film surface, suppressing the magnetic coupling between Ti ions and unleashing a strong paramagnetic response from uncoupled Dy ions.

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19 March 2018
Hercules PSI2.jpg

HERCULES at the Swiss Light Source

In the week of March 18-23 PSI welcomes 20 PhD students and postdocs taking part in the HERCULES 2018 school on Neutron and Synchrotron Radiation. They will attend lectures and perform two days of practical courses at several beam lines of the Swiss Light Source.

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22 May 2017

Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

For the first time, researchers have produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Paul Scherrer Institute, in collaboration with their research partners, published the findings in the journal Nature Communications.

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18 January 2017
News20170118 MMretreat80 group web.jpg

Annual Retreat of the Microscopy & Magnetism Group

The Magnetism and Microscopy group has met for its annual retreat meeting in Lungern 11- 15.1.2017 (in the central mountain region of Switzerland) for extensive discussions on its science program. As for other years, after some general introductory lecture into the techniques used, current and future projects have been presented by the PhD students, postdocs, and scientists as well as from guests who collaborate with the group. Discussion went into the time where dinner has been prepared together, followed by some leisure activities on Saturday.

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9 November 2016
Single holmium atoms on magnesium oxide. (left) Scanning tunneling microscope image and (right) magnetic hysteresis from x-ray magnetic circular dichroism.

The Smallest Magnet

Single holmium atoms adsorbed on few monolayers of magnesium oxide are extraordinarily stable magnets. They retain a significant fraction of their magnetization when the external magnetic field is switched off. This has been shown recently in a study combining x-ray magnetic circular dichroism performed at the Swiss Light Source (SLS) and at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) as well as scanning tunneling microscopy. The results open perspectives of storing and processing information at ultrahigh density.

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19 July 2016
Magnetic hysteresis of a submonolayer of TbPc2 molecules on magnesium oxide.

Magnesium Oxide Boosts the Hysteresis of Single-Molecule Magnets

Researchers from PSI and EPFL have demonstrated that the magnetization hysteresis and remanence of TbPc2 single-molecule magnets drastically depends on the substrate on which they are deposited. If a few atomic layers thick magnesium oxide film grown on a silver substrate is used, a record wide hysteresis and record large remanence can be obtained. Single-molecule magnets are attractive for molecular spintronics applications such as information processing or storage.

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