Quantum Landauer erasure with a molecular nanomagnet

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The erasure of a bit of information is an irreversible operation whose minimal entropy production of kB ln 2 is set by the Landauer limit1. This limit has been verified in a variety of classical systems, including particles in traps2,3 and nanomagnets4. Here, we extend it to the quantum realm by using a crystal of molecular nanomagnets as a quantum spin memory and showing that its erasure is still governed by the Landauer principle. In contrast to classical systems, maximal energy efficiency is achieved while preserving fast operation owing to its high-speed spin dynamics. The performance of our spin register in terms of energy–time cost is orders of magnitude better than existing memory devices to date. The result shows that thermodynamics sets a limit on the energy cost of certain quantum operations and illustrates a way to enhance classical computations by using a quantum system.

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Fig. 1: Quantum Landauer erasure of a molecular spin register.
Fig. 2: Susceptibility of the quantum MM during the Landauer erasure.
Fig. 3: Total bit reset work.
Fig. 4: Relaxation time and energy–time cost.

Change history

  • 20 April 2018

    In the version of this Letter originally published, the key to the green and open circles in Fig. 4 was reversed; it should have shown that the green circles correspond to ‘From χ versus T’ and the open circles correspond to ‘From χ versus H y ’. This has now been corrected in all versions of the Letter.


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The research reported here was supported by an advanced ERC grant (Mols@Mols). We also acknowledge financial support by the Dutch Organization for Fundamental research (NWO/FOM). E.B. acknowledges funds from the EU FP7 programme through the project 618082 ACMOL. F.L. acknowledges the Spanish MINECO (grant MAT2015-68204-R), the Gobierno de Aragón (grant E98-MOLCHIP) and the European Union (COST 15128 Molecular Spintronics project). R.G. especially thanks L. Gammaitoni for inspiring discussions.

Author information

R.G. conceived the idea; F.L., E.B. and R.G designed and performed the experiment; R.G., E.B., F.L. and H.S.J.v.d.Z. wrote the manuscript; S.M. synthesized the molecules. All authors contributed to the interpretation of the data and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to R. Gaudenzi.

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Supplementary notes, Supplementary Figures 1–12,Supplementary references

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Gaudenzi, R., Burzurí, E., Maegawa, S. et al. Quantum Landauer erasure with a molecular nanomagnet. Nature Phys 14, 565–568 (2018) doi:10.1038/s41567-018-0070-7

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