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Forschungszentrum Jülich - Annual Report 2012

32 Forschungszentrum Jülich | Annual Report 2012 Designing Molecular Data Storage Jülich physicists use computer simulations to explain the magnetic and electronic properties of a thin layer system made of cobalt and organic molecules. They are thus paving the way towards molecular components for future information technology. The group, which includes international research partners, have published their findings in the journal Nature. lead to very different physical proper- ties. However, the exact number and arrangement of atoms is difficult to control in metals and semiconductors – the materials that components are made of today. One way out of this dilemma could be ‘molecular electronics’ with nano- metre-scale components made up of molecules. Molecules comprise a fixed number of atoms, can be designed specifically for various purposes, and can be produced cost-effectively in an identical form over and over again. There are indications that the magnetic moment of these electrons – the ‘spin’ – could also exploited in addition to their electric charge, making it possible to implement entirely new functions, such as non-volatile RAM or quantum computers. Magnetic sandwich Molecules for such ‘molecular spintron- ics’ must have specific magnetic proper- ties. However, these properties are sensitive and frequently vanish into thin air if the molecules are attached to inorganic materials, which are required to conduct electric current. A team of researchers from Forschungszentrum Jülich, the University of Göttingen, Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA, Rud¯er Boškovi´c Institute in Croatia, and IISER Kolkata in India have now discovered a material system that does not behave according to this principle. It is produced by applying small organometallic molecules referred to as zinc methyl phenalenyl (ZMP) onto a cobalt substrate. The researchers demonstrated that ZMP (which is not magnetic in itself) forms a magnetic U p until today, processors and storage media have been made smaller and smaller in order to increase the performance of computers. However, this strategy is about to reach the limits imposed by physics. Components that are too small become unstable, making them unsuitable for secure data storage and processing. One reason is that in components consisting of only a few atoms, even an atom more or less can