Research ArticleCHEMICAL PHYSICS

How do phonons relax molecular spins?

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Science Advances  27 Sep 2019:
Vol. 5, no. 9, eaax7163
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aax7163

Abstract

The coupling between electronic spins and lattice vibrations is fundamental for driving relaxation in magnetic materials. The debate over the nature of spin-phonon coupling dates back to the 1940s, but the role of spin-spin, spin-orbit, and hyperfine interactions has never been fully established. Here, we present a comprehensive study of the spin dynamics of a crystal of Vanadyl-based molecular qubits by means of first-order perturbation theory and first-principles calculations. We quantitatively determine the role of the Zeeman, hyperfine, and electronic spin dipolar interactions in the direct mechanism of spin relaxation. We show that, in a high magnetic field regime, the modulation of the Zeeman Hamiltonian by the intramolecular components of the acoustic phonons dominates the relaxation mechanism. In low fields, hyperfine coupling takes over, with the role of spin-spin dipolar interaction remaining the less important for the spin relaxation.

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