Engineering the Eigenstates of Coupled Spin-1/2 Atoms on a Surface

Phys Rev Lett. 2017 Dec 1;119(22):227206. doi: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.119.227206. Epub 2017 Nov 29.


Quantum spin networks having engineered geometries and interactions are eagerly pursued for quantum simulation and access to emergent quantum phenomena such as spin liquids. Spin-1/2 centers are particularly desirable, because they readily manifest coherent quantum fluctuations. Here we introduce a controllable spin-1/2 architecture consisting of titanium atoms on a magnesium oxide surface. We tailor the spin interactions by atomic-precision positioning using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and subsequently perform electron spin resonance on individual atoms to drive transitions into and out of quantum eigenstates of the coupled-spin system. Interactions between the atoms are mapped over a range of distances extending from highly anisotropic dipole coupling to strong exchange coupling. The local magnetic field of the magnetic STM tip serves to precisely tune the superposition states of a pair of spins. The precise control of the spin-spin interactions and ability to probe the states of the coupled-spin network by addressing individual spins will enable the exploration of quantum many-body systems based on networks of spin-1/2 atoms on surfaces.