Efficient processing and storage of the large amount of data generated in modern society will bring tremendous benefits to a wide range of areas such as health care, government, logistics and will reduce global energy consumption. Digital information is stored in hard-drives in magnetic domains, where the north and south poles represent binary “one” and “zero”. It is difficult to reduce the size of these domains further, which poses a significant challenge for increasing the data storage density and therefore the capacity of computer memories. Single-molecule magnets (SMMs) circumvent these problems since their magnetic properties can be well controlled at the nanometre-scale due to their chemical flexibility.
A promising approach to implement SMMs in technology will be to study how light can be used to probe and eventually control the magnetism in SMMs. This is a new and exciting line of research but progress is limited by the difficulties to produce good quality samples suitable for optical experiments. We will therefore build a new collaboration between three different groups at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and the University of the West of Scotland (UWS), combining the expertise in making and characterising SMMs at UoE with the facilities and skills of the thin-film centre at UWS in order to understand how SMMs can be controlled by light. The unique possibility to form a synergetic interaction between these groups is innovative and has the potential to deliver a real, modern solution to the increasing demand for faster and more compact computer memories.