IBM Research creates technique to control magnetism of single copper atom

The breakthrough could have implications for quantum information processing and future storage.


Inside the atom is the nucleus, a tiny magnetic core. This image highlights the connection of IBM's Scanning Tunneling Microscope and an atom to manipulate positioning. Source: IBM

IBM Research has developed a new technique to control the magnetism of a single copper atom's nucleus via Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, or NMR.

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NMR is the process behind the more familiar magnetic resonance imaging, or MRI. NMR is also a tool to see the structures of molecules.

IBM Research used its Scanning Tunneling Microscope, its invention to view atoms and move them individually. The idea is that the microscope can study how NMR changes and shape them accordingly.

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The company noted that it used copper because it is widely used and hooks up microcircuits. Meanwhile, the magnetic properties of copper aren't well known. By manipulating copper atoms, IBM Research is hoping to create new applications for small magnetic memory devices.

According to IBM Research, its breakthrough could have implications for quantum information processing and future storage technologies.

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IBM Research researchers Dr. Kai Yang and Dr. Christopher Lutz along with co-authors published the research in Nature Nanotechnology.

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