Tristability in a light-actuated single-molecule magnet

Feng, X.; Mathonière, C.; Jeon, I.-R.; Rouzières, M.; Ozarowski, A.; Aubrey, M. L.; Gonzalez, M. I.; Clérac, R.; Long, J. R. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 15880–15884.


Molecules exhibiting bistability have been proposed as elementary binary units (bits) for information storage, potentially enabling fast and efficient computing. In particular, transition metal complexes can display magnetic bistability via either spin-crossover or single-molecule magnet behavior. We now show that the octahedral iron(II) complexes in the molecular salt [Fe(1-propyltetrazole)6](BF4)2, when placed in its high-symmetry form, can combine both types of behavior. Light irradiation under an applied magnetic field enables fully reversible switching between an $S = 0$ state and an $S = 2$ state with either up ($M_S = +2$) or down ($M_S = −2$) polarities. The resulting tristability suggests the possibility of using molecules for ternary information storage in direct analogy to current binary systems that employ magnetic switching and the magneto-optical Kerr effect as write and read mechanisms.