The role of magnetic anisotropy in the Kondo effect

  • Otte A
  • Ternes M
  • von Bergmann K
 et al. 
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In the Kondo effect, a localized magnetic moment is screened by forming
a correlated electron system with the surrounding conduction electrons
of a non-magnetic host1. Spin S=1/2 Kondo systems have been investigated
extensively in theory and experiments, but magnetic atoms often have
a larger spin2. Larger spins are subject to the influence of magnetocrystalline
anisotropy, which describes the dependence of the magnetic moment's
energy on the orientation of the spin relative to its surrounding
atomic environment3, 4. Here we demonstrate the decisive role of
magnetic anisotropy in the physics of Kondo screening. A scanning
tunnelling microscope is used to simultaneously determine the magnitude
of the spin, the magnetic anisotropy and the Kondo properties of
individual magnetic atoms on a surface. We find that a Kondo resonance
emerges for large-spin atoms only when the magnetic anisotropy creates
degenerate ground-state levels that are connected by the spin flip
of a screening electron. The magnetic anisotropy also determines
how the Kondo resonance evolves in a magnetic field: the resonance
peak splits at rates that are strongly direction dependent. These
rates are well described by the energies of the underlying unscreened
spin states.

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  • Alexander F Otte

  • Markus Ternes

  • Kirsten von Bergmann

  • Sebastian Loth

  • Harald Brune

  • Christopher P Lutz

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