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:  Thomasz Michnowicz, Arash Tebyani, Markus Ternes, Yuqi Wang
Former members: Tobias Herden, Peter Jacobson, Steffen Kahle,  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)
  • 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)
  • M. Ternes, Spin Excitations and Correlations in Scanning Tunneling Spectroscopy, New J. Phys. 17, 063016 (2015)


  • 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)