Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Volume 8 Issue 3, March 2009

Two independent studies demonstrate how control over magnetic molecules on surfaces may lead to new spintronics applications.

Cover design by David Shand

News & Views by Heiko Wende et al.


  • Even materials scientists have reason to celebrate the seminal insights of Charles Darwin on his bicentenary.



Top of page ⤴

Research Highlights

Top of page ⤴

News & Views

  • Two independent studies demonstrate how control over magnetic molecules on surfaces may lead to new spintronics applications.

    • Heiko Wende
    News & Views
  • Preparation of supported subnanometre platinum clusters that are stable provides a new design strategy for industrial nanocatalysts.

    • Gianfranco Pacchioni
    News & Views
  • The discovery that domain walls in insulating thin films of the multiferroic compound BiFeO3 are electrically conducting opens the door for a number of possible applications.

    • Hélène Béa
    • Patrycja Paruch
    News & Views
  • The melting of transition metals on compression is a challenging topic. Computer simulations suggest that hot-compressed tantalum becomes a one-dimensional, liquid-like glass, with important implications for understanding planetary interiors.

    • Daniel Errandonea
    News & Views
  • Large and homogeneous layers of graphene are obtained by annealing silicon carbide in a dense noble gas atmosphere that controls the way in which silicon sublimates. Epitaxial graphene thus gets back on track towards future electronic applications.

    • Peter Sutter
    News & Views
  • Biological membranes form an extremely complex and dynamic network in cells, guided by specialized protein machinery. A new algorithm analyses membrane shape to extract forces applied by proteins controlling the membranes.

    • Vadim A. Frolov
    • Joshua Zimmerberg
    News & Views
Top of page ⤴

Review Article

Top of page ⤴


  • Although magnetic molecules are widely investigated for their potential use in memory devices, their regular arrangement on surfaces has proven difficult. Arrays of iron atoms, linked by molecular ligands, have now been fabricated on copper surfaces. Importantly, the magnetism of the iron atoms is preserved and can be switched through oxygen adsorption.

    • Pietro Gambardella
    • Sebastian Stepanow
    • Klaus Kern
  • Molecular magnets are promising for their use as high-density memory devices. However, maintaining the molecules’ magnetic state when bonded to a substrate has been impossible. The discovery, in sophisticated experiments, that single magnetic molecules can indeed show magnetic hysteresis when wired to a gold surface opens the door to individually address magnetic molecules.

    • Matteo Mannini
    • Francesco Pineider
    • Roberta Sessoli
  • The possibility of polarizing conducting charges in a material by blocking those with a specific spin direction could lead to efficient spintronic devices. It is now shown that spin polarized-defects in a non-magnetic semiconductor can deplete electrons with opposite spins and turn the semiconductor into an efficient spin filter operating at room temperature.

    • X. J. Wang
    • I. A. Buyanova
    • W. M. Chen
  • Thermal annealing of SiC produces graphene layers on an insulating substrate, but the material is highly inhomogeneous. It is now shown that an argon atmosphere during annealing improves uniformity of the graphene layers dramatically and yields better transport characteristics. This is a very important result for the development of graphene-based electronic devices.

    • Konstantin V. Emtsev
    • Aaron Bostwick
    • Thomas Seyller
  • A limiting factor of the power conversion efficiencies of organic photovoltaic devices is low voltage output. Methano derivatives of the trimetallic endohedral fullerene Lu3N@C80 have now been synthesized and used as the acceptor in organic photovoltaics. The open circuit voltage of the devices is significantly above those made using alternative fullerenes.

    • Russel B. Ross
    • Claudia M. Cardona
    • Martin Drees
  • Catalytic oxidative dehydrogenation of alkanes is limited by poor activity and/or selectivity. Efficient conversion of propane to propylene is now achieved using sub-nanometre Pt clusters stabilized on alumina supports. The clusters are shown to be substantially more active than conventional catalysts and are highly selective towards propylene formation.

    • Stefan Vajda
    • Michael J. Pellin
    • Peter Zapol
  • Mesoporous materials with tunable, non-oxidic frameworks possess structural characteristics that make them attractive for catalytic and optoelectronic applications. Porous materials based on germanium-rich chalcogenide networks and polarizable surfaces exhibit selectivity for separating hydrogen from methane and carbon dioxide.

    • Gerasimos S. Armatas
    • Mercouri G. Kanatzidis
Top of page ⤴


  • The melting of transition metals at high pressures has been subject to intensive debate, given seemingly contradictory experimental evidence. Molecular dynamics calculations now demonstrate how, at high pressure, shear induces a transition from body-centred-cubic tantalum to a one-dimensional structure, offering a plausible explanation for experimental observations.

    • Christine J. Wu
    • Per Söderlind
    • John E. Klepeis
  • Domain walls may be important in future electronic devices, given their small size as well as the fact that their location can be controlled. In the case of insulating multiferroic oxides, domain walls are now discovered to be electrically conductive, suggesting their possible use in logic and memory applications.

    • J. Seidel
    • L. W. Martin
    • R. Ramesh
Top of page ⤴


Quick links