Nanoscale Dominoes: Magnetic Moments Topple Over in Rows

Sep 24, 2008

Physicists at the Institut für Festkörperforschung in Germany have discovered a type of domino effect in rows of individual manganese atoms on a nickel surface. They determined that the magnetic arrangement of these nanowires varies depending on their lengths.

Using computer simulations and statistical models, the physicists found that if only a single atom is added or taken away, the magnetic structure of the nanowire changes entirely.

Specifically, when the number of atoms is odd, the magnetic moments (a measure of how well the nanowire acts as a magnet) are neatly aligned in opposite directions. When the number of atoms is even, the moments line up randomly, in a jumbled mix of different positions. Adding an atom at the end of the nanowire or taking one away causes the magnetic moments to topple over like a row of dominoes. But unlike dominoes, the effect can be completely reversed.

This new quantum mechanical effect makes magnetic switches possible on an atomic scale, and could one day be applied to the transporting and storing of magnetic information onto extremely small spaces. Their work is importance for the design of high speed, high storage capacity, and energy saving computing devices. The authors hope that it will be proven experimentally in the near future.

Citaton: S. Lounis, P. Dederichs, and S. Blugel, Physical Review Letters (forthcoming article)

Source: APL

Explore further: Electrons moving along defined snake states

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Researchers bring clean energy a step closer

2 hours ago

For nearly half a century, scientists have been trying to replace precious metal catalysts in fuel cells. Now, for the first time, researchers at Case Western Reserve University have shown that an inexpensive metal-free catalyst ...

Barclays to allow payments by using Twitter handles

2 hours ago

The next chapter in banks moving into the digital age is a stretch beyond reminding customers over phone lines that they can also bank online. Barclays has launched Twitter payments through Pingit.

Predicting human crowds with statistical physics

3 hours ago

For the first time researchers have directly measured a general law of how pedestrians interact in a crowd. This law can be used to create realistic crowds in virtual reality games and to make public spaces safer.

Recommended for you

Electrons moving along defined snake states

18 hours ago

Physicists at the University of Basel have shown for the first time that electrons in graphene can be moved along a predefined path. This movement occurs entirely without loss and could provide a basis for ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.