Magnetic quantum tunneling in the single-molecule magnet Mn12 -acetate

E. del Barco, Andy D. Kent, S. Hill, J. M. North, N. S. Dalal, E. M. Rumberger, D. N. Hendrickson, N. Chakov, G. Christou

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The symmetry of magnetic quantum tunneling (MQT) in the single molecule magnet Mn12-acetate has been determined by sensitive low-temperature magnetic measurements in the pure quantum tunneling regime and high frequency EPR spectroscopy in the presence of large transverse magnetic fields. The combined data set definitely establishes the transverse anisotropy terms responsible for the low temperature quantum dynamics. MQT is due to a disorder induced locally varying quadratic transverse anisotropy associated with rhombic distortions in the molecular environment (2nd order in the spin-operators). This is superimposed on a 4th order transverse magnetic anisotropy consistent with the global (average) S4 molecule site symmetry. These forms of the transverse anisotropy are incommensurate, leading to a complex interplay between local and global symmetries, the consequences of which are analyzed in detail. The resulting model explains: (1) the observation of a twofold symmetry of MQT as a function of the angle of the transverse magnetic field when a subset of molecules in a single crystal are studied; (2) the non-monotonic dependence of the tunneling probability on the magnitude of the transverse magnetic field, which is ascribed to an interference (Berry phase)effect; and (3) the angular dependence of EPR absorption peaks, including the fine structure in the peaks, among many other phenomena. This work also establishes the magnitude of the 2nd and 4th order transverse anisotropy terms for Mn 12-acetate single crystals and the angle between the hard magnetic anisotropy axes of these terms. EPR as a function of the angle of the field with respect to the easy axes (close to the hard-medium plane) confirms that there are discrete tilts of the molecular magnetic easy axis from the global (average) easy axis of a crystal, also associated with solvent disorder. The latter observation provides a very plausible explanation for the lack of MQT selection rules, which has been a puzzle for many years.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)119-174
    Number of pages56
    JournalJournal of Low Temperature Physics
    Issue number1-2
    StatePublished - Jul 2005


    • EPR
    • Magnetometry
    • Mn-acetate
    • Molecular nano-magnet
    • Quantum tunneling
    • Single-molecule magnet

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
    • General Materials Science
    • Condensed Matter Physics


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