Disk chopper time-of-flight spectrometer
Molecular nanomagnets are materials composed of only a few atoms carrying magnetic moments. They can form nanoscale units with a unique magnetic nature.
In particular, quantum mechanical effects, enhanced by the finite size of magnetic nanostructures, profoundly affect the motion of spins.
In a world first, inelastic neutron scattering on a single-crystal sample of these materials was used to directly probe the motion of magnetic moments within the molecules.
This new experiment made it possible to examine in detail the spatial structure of the magnetic excitations. The observation of motion is direct as it does not require the use of a mathematical model to be revealed.
This new technique is the most powerful tool available to scientists studying the behaviour of magnetic moments within individual nanoscale magnetic molecules. It could help research into the use of these materials and their magnetic moments for data recording (encoding of qubits) as well as the next generation of computing technology.
Ref.: "Spin dynamics of molecular nanomagnets unravelled at atomic scale by four-dimensional inelastic neutron scattering",
Nature Physics 8, 906–911 (2012) doi:10.1038/nphys2431