Research ArticlePHYSICS

Longitudinal and transverse electron paramagnetic resonance in a scanning tunneling microscope

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Science Advances  30 Sep 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 40, eabc5511
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc5511


Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy is widely used to characterize paramagnetic complexes. Recently, EPR combined with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) achieved single-spin sensitivity with sub-angstrom spatial resolution. The excitation mechanism of EPR in STM, however, is broadly debated, raising concerns about widespread application of this technique. We present an extensive experimental study and modeling of EPR-STM of Fe and hydrogenated Ti atoms on a MgO surface. Our results support a piezoelectric coupling mechanism, in which the EPR species oscillate adiabatically in the inhomogeneous magnetic field of the STM tip. An analysis based on Bloch equations combined with atomic-multiplet calculations identifies different EPR driving forces. Specifically, transverse magnetic field gradients drive the spin-1/2 hydrogenated Ti, whereas longitudinal magnetic field gradients drive the spin-2 Fe. Also, our results highlight the potential of piezoelectric coupling to induce electric dipole moments, thereby broadening the scope of EPR-STM to nonpolar species and nonlinear excitation schemes.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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