This interesting post on the Chemistry World website describes a very exciting piece of research published in Science recently that describes a new technique which may allow us to ‘see’ individual spins of electrons and atoms in a molecule – possibly leading to atom-resolved NMR spectroscopy.
The technique utilises a a STM set up which is sensitive enough to detect the flipping of spins within atoms of the molecule being probed. They managed to use a radiofrequency wave, such as those used in NMR or EPR, to induce transitions between the two spin states of the nuclei being analysed, which alters the current in the STM and leads to a peak in the detection.
The team were able to probe a terbium sandwich complex, and were even able to monitor several hyperfine transitions due to couplings between the spins being observed.
The work is still in its early days, and more depth is definitely needed, but it’s interesting and exciting research which could not only lead to atom by atom resolution in magnetic spectroscopies, but also allow for manipulation of nuclear spins on the road to spintronics and quantum computing.