Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Spin-Orbit Coupled Molecular Quantum Magnetism Realized in Inorganic Solid



Sang-Youn Park, S.-H. Do, K.-Y. Choi, J.-H. Kang, Dongjin Jang, B. Schmidt, Manuel Brando, B.-H. Kim, D.-H. Kim, Nicholas Butch, Seongsu Lee, Sungdae Ji


The molecular magnetism, representing an isolated spin state, is of particular interest due to characteristics of quantum magnetism with quantum tunneling phenomena underlying qubits or molecular spintronics for the quantum information devices. Such quantum magnetism has been realized in magnetic metal-organic molecular systems, the so-called molecular magnets. Here, we report the molecular quantum magnetism realized in an inorganic solid Ba3Yb2Zn5O11, which forms alternating three dimensional arrays of small and large tetrahedrons consisting of four spin-orbit coupled pseudospin-1/2 Yb3+ ions. The observed magnetization represents the magnetic quantum values of the isolated tetrahedron with effectively a total(pseudo)spin Seff =2. Inelastic neutron scattering (INS) results with an external magnetic field reveals that extraordinarily large Dzyaloshinsky-Moriya (DM) interaction originating from strong spin-orbit coupling in Yb pseudospin is a key ingredient to explain magnetic excitations of the molecular spin Seff = 2 in addition to Heisenberg exchange interaction and Zeeman effect. The DM interaction allows a non-adiabatic quantum transition between avoided crossing energy levels, the so-called Landau-Zener transition, and also results in unexpected magnetic behaviors in conventional molecular magnets. Our finding not only opens a possibility for qubit device applications with the benefit of regularity in the inorganic solid but also provides a playground to study the crossover of quantum magnetism with strong spin-orbit coupling from isolated to geometrically frustrated magnetic systems by manipulating the inter-molecular distance.
Nature Communications


frustrated magnetism


Park, S. , Do, S. , Choi, K. , Kang, J. , Jang, D. , Schmidt, B. , Brando, M. , Kim, B. , Kim, D. , Butch, N. , Lee, S. and Ji, S. (2016), Spin-Orbit Coupled Molecular Quantum Magnetism Realized in Inorganic Solid, Nature Communications, [online], (Accessed April 14, 2024)
Created September 20, 2016, Updated October 12, 2021