Stable single atom magnets may assume a secret identity! Holmium single atom magnets are mostly classical for safe data storage but when we turn them into a quantum system, they become excellent for state control.
The magnetic quantum states of holmium single atom magnets on MgO(100) have proven extremely robust when exposed to high magnetic fields and temperatures up to 35 K. Here we address the stability of Ho at small magnetic fields, where the hyperfine interaction creates several avoided level crossings. Using spin-polarized scanning tunneling microscopy, we demonstrate quantum state control via Landau-Zener tunneling and stable magnetization at zero field. Our observations indicate a total spin ground state of Jz=±8. Combined quantum and classical control render Ho a promising qubit candidate.
Figure (a) Schematic of SP-STM tip (green) centered above a Ho atom on an MgO thin film on Ag(100) (STM image recorded at It=104 pA, V=−130 mV, white scale bar 2 nm). We read the holmium's magnetic state, Up or Down, before and after its evolution by switching it at a tunnel voltage above the switching threshold V2>Vt=73 mV (left and right panels). (b) Current-time traces showing two-state switching (Iset=100 pA, V2=−130 mV, T=4.7 K, feedback open). When at tunnel distances, the antiferromagnetic tip exposes the atom to a stray field, B0; when sufficiently retracted the field is zero. In the example shown, the Up state is preserved for 16 min at V1<Vt and B=B0.