C04 – Controlling the spin and electronic interaction in atomic and molecular contacts

Funding period: 01/2008 – 12/2019

Principal investigator: Uta Schlikum, Klaus Kern

Scientific staff:  Abishek Grewal,  Markus Ternes, Yuqi Wang
Former members: Tobias Herden, Peter Jacobson, Steffen Kahle, Thomasz Michnowicz, Matthias Muenks, Verena Schendel

Utilizing combined scanning tunneling and atomic force microscopy at low temperature we study the electronic and magnetic properties of atomic and molecular junctions. We use differential conductance, inelastic spin-flip, force, and Kelvin probe spectroscopy. The interaction between different spins or between spins and correlated electron systems in the superconducting or Kondo state will be probed on different substrates. We control the electronic and magnetic state of molecules and atomic structures by varying the interaction strength via the electrostatic field, exchange interaction, or the mechanical forces exerted by the probing tip.

For further information please also refer to the group website: Nanoscale Science Department @ MPI

List of publications


  • J. Hermenau, M. Ternes, M. Steinbrecher, R. Wiesendanger, and J. Wiebe
    Long spin relaxation times in a transition metal atom in direct contact to a metal substrate
    Nano Letters 18, 1978 (2018) - DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b05392


  •  B. Borca, T. Michnowicz, R. Pétuya, M. Pristl, V. Schendel, I. Pentegov, U. Kraft, H. Klauk, P. Wahl, R. Gutzler, A. Arnau, U. Schlickum, and K. Kern
    Electric field driven direct desulfurization
    ACS Nano 11, 4703 (2017) - DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b00612
  • V. Schendel, C. Barreteau, M. Brandbyge, B. Borca, I. Pentegov, U. Schlickum, M. Ternes, P. Wahl, and K. Kern
    Strong paramagnon scattering in single atom Pd contacts
    Phys. Rev. B 96, 035155 (2017) - DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.96.035155
  • P. Jacobson, M. Muenks, G. Laskin, O. Brovko, V. Stepanyuk, M. Ternes, and K. Kern
    Potential energy-driven spin manipulation via a controllable hydrogen ligand
    Science Advances 3, e1602060 (2017) - DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1602060
  • M. Ternes
    Probing Magnetic Excitations and Correlations in Single and Coupled Spin Systems with Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy
    Prog. Surf. Sci. 92, 83–115 (2017) - DOI: 10.1016/j.progsurf.2017.01.001
  • M. Muenks, P. Jacobson, M. Ternes, and K. Kern
    Correlation Driven Transport Asymmetries Through Coupled Spins in a tunnel junction
    Nature Communincations 8, 14119 (2017) - DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14119


  • V. Schendel, B. Borca, I. Pentegov, T. Michnowicz, U. Kraft, H. Klauk, P. Wahl, U. Schlickum, and K. Kern
    Remotely controlled isomer selective molecular switching
    Nano Letters 16, 93 (2016) - DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.5b02974


  • B. Borca, V. Schendel, R. Pétuya, I. Pentegov, T. Michnowicz, U. Kraft, H. Klauk, A. Arnau, P. Wahl, U. Schlickum, and K. Kern
    Bipolar conductance switching of single anthraditiophene molecules
    ACS Nano 9, 12506 (2015) - DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b06000
  • A. Spinelli, M. Gerrits, R. Toskovic, B. Bryant, M. Ternes, and A. F. Otte
    Exploring the phase diagram of the two-impurity Kondo problem
    Nature Communications 6, 10046 (2015) - DOI:10.1038/ncomm10046
  • P. Jacobson, T. Herden, M. Muenks, G. Laskin, O. Brovko, V. Stepanyuk, M. Ternes, and K. Kern
    Quantum engineering of spin and anisotropy in magnetic molecular junctions
    Nature Communications 6, 8536 (2015) - DOI:10.1038/ncomm9536
  • M. Ternes
    Spin Excitations and Correlations in Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy
    New J. Phys. 17, 063016 (2015) - DOI:10.1088/1367-2630/17/6/063016


  • Tobias Herden, Markus Ternes, and Klaus Kern
    Lateral and Vertical Stiffness of the Epitaxial h-BN Monolayer on Rh(111)
    Nano Letters 14 (6), 3623-3627 (2014) - DOI: 10.1021/nl501349r


  • Y. Zhang, S. Kahle, T. Herden, C. Stroh, M. Mayor, U. Schlickum, M. Ternes, P. Wahl, and K. Kern
    Temperature and magnetic field dependence of a Kondo system in the weak coupling regime
    Nature Communications 4, 2110 (2013) - DOI: 10.1038/ncomms3110


  • S. Kahle, Z. Deng, N. Malinowski, C. Tonnoir, A. Forment-Aliaga, N. Thontasen, G. Rinke, D. Le, V. Turkowski, T. S. Rahman, S. Rauschenbach, M. Ternes, and K. Kern
    The Quantum Magnetism of Individual Manganese-12-Acetate  Molecular Magnets Anchored at Surfaces
    Nano Letters 12 (1), 518 (2012) - DOI: 10.1021/nl204141z


  • J. Bork, Y. Zhang, L. Diekhöner, L. Borda, P. Simon, J. Kroha, P. Wahl, and K. Kern
    A tunable two-impurity Kondo system in an atomic point contact
    Nat. Physics 7, 901 (2011) - DOI: 10.1038/nphys2076
  • M. Ternes, C. Gonzalez, C. P. Lutz, P. Hapala, F. J. Giessibl, P. Jelinek, and A. J. Heinrich
    The Interplay of Conductance, Force, and Structure Change in Metallic Point Contacts
    Phys Rev. Lett. 106, 016802 (2011)


  • A .R. Schmidt, M. H. Hamidian, P. Wahl, F. Meier, A. V. Balatsky, J. D. Garrett, T. J. Williams, G. M. Luke, and J. C. Davis,
    Imaging the Fano lattice to ‘hidden order’ transition in URu2Si2
    Nature 465, 570 (2010)
  • S. Bose, A. M. García-García, M. M. Ugeda, J. D. Urbina, C. H. Michaelis, I. Brihuega, and K. Kern
    Observation of shell effects in superconducting nanoparticles of Sn
    Nature Mater. 9, 550 (2010)
  • N. Thontasen, G. Levita, N. Malinowski, Z. Deng, S. Rauschenbach, and K. Kern
    Grafting Crown Ether Alkali Host-Guest Complexes at Surfaces by Electrospray Ion Beam Deposition
    J. Phys. Chem. C 114, 17768 (2010)


  • P. Gambardella, S. Stepanow, A. Dmitriev, J. Honolka, F. de Groot, M. Lingenfelder, S. S. Gupta, D. D. Sarma, P. Bencok, S. Stanescu, S. Clair, S. Pons, N. Lin, A. P. Seitsonen, H. Seitsonen, H. Brune, J. V. Barth and K. Kern
    Supramolecular control of the magnetic anisotropy in two-dimensional high-spin Fe arrays at a metal interface
    Nature Mater. 8, 189 (2009)
  • J. Bork, P. Wahl, L. Diekhöner, and K. Kern
    Potential energy landscape of metallic Moiré patterns
    New J. Phys. 11, 113051 (2009)
  • S. Rauschenbach, R. Vogelgesang, R., N. Malinowski, J. W. Gerlach, M. Benyoucef, G. Costantini, Z. Deng, N. Thontasen, N., and K. Kern
    Electrospray Ion Beam Deposition: Soft-Landing and Fragmentation of Functional Molecules at Solid Surfaces
    ACS Nano 3, 2901 (2009)
  • M. Ternes, A. J. Heinrich, W.-D. Schneider
    Spectroscopic Manifestations of the Kondo Effect on Single Adatoms
    J. Phys.: Condens. Mat. 21, 053001 (2009)


  • M. Ternes, C. P. Lutz, C. F. Hirjibehedin, F. J. Giessibl, and A. J. Heinrich
    The Force Needed to Move an Atom on a Surface
    Science 319, 1066 (2008)


  • C. F. Hirjibehedin, C.-Y. Lin, A. F. Otte, M. Ternes, C. P. Lutz, B. A. Jones, A. J. Heinrich
    Large Magnetic Anisotropy of a Single Atomic Spin Embedded in a Surface Molecular Network
    Science 317, 1199 (2007)
  • U. Schlickum, R. Decker, F. Klappenberger, G. Zoppellaro, S. Klyatskaya, M. Ruben, I. Silanes, A. Arnau, K. Kern, H. Brune, J. V. Barth
    Metal-Organic Honeycomb Nanomeshes with Tunable Cavity Size
    Nano Lett. 7, 3813 (2007)
  • P. Wahl, P. Simon, L. Diekhöner, V. S. Stepanyuk, P. Bruno, M. A. Schneider, and K. Kern
    Exchange interaction between single magnetic adatoms
    Phys. Rev. Lett. 98, 056601 (2007)