Electronic read-out of a single nuclear spin using a molecular spin transistor

Nature. 2012 Aug 16;488(7411):357-60. doi: 10.1038/nature11341.


Quantum control of individual spins in condensed-matter devices is an emerging field with a wide range of applications, from nanospintronics to quantum computing. The electron, possessing spin and orbital degrees of freedom, is conventionally used as the carrier of quantum information in proposed devices. However, electrons couple strongly to the environment, and so have very short relaxation and coherence times. It is therefore extremely difficult to achieve quantum coherence and stable entanglement of electron spins. Alternative concepts propose nuclear spins as the building blocks for quantum computing, because such spins are extremely well isolated from the environment and less prone to decoherence. However, weak coupling comes at a price: it remains challenging to address and manipulate individual nuclear spins. Here we show that the nuclear spin of an individual metal atom embedded in a single-molecule magnet can be read out electronically. The observed long lifetimes (tens of seconds) and relaxation characteristics of nuclear spin at the single-atom scale open the way to a completely new world of devices in which quantum logic may be implemented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't