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New Concepts and Tools in Molecular Spintronics

International research consortium COSMICS discusses at Kiel University



A fundamental understanding of new smart functional molecules and concepts to use them for developing new components for electronic devices – that are the main aims of the project COSMICS “New Concepts and Tools in Molecular Spintronics”. Last week the international consortium met at Kiel University for the first time. The project brings together six teams of physicists and chemists from across Europe, including universities and research organisations from France, Spain and Denmark, and Kiel University from Germany. Together with a software development company they want to develop a modelling platform around molecular spintronics and general concepts for efficient strategies to greatly optimize the magneto-transport properties of materials and devices. The platform shall stimulate fundamental as well as applied and technological research and facilitate the emergence of new key enabling technologies. The project has been funded through the EU's HORIZON 2020 research programme with approximately 3.8 million Euro. The funding period is four years.

“Molecules are amonge the smallest unseful building blocks that we have. With controlling them we hope to build completely new electronic devices, as small as possible”, describes Professor Cyrille Barreteau from the French Research Organisation CEA(Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives) the basic idea of „COSMICS“. “In the light of the miniaturisation of devices there is an urgent need for components like this.” Barreteau coordinates the international project of molecular spintronics. It is an emergent field combining the flexibility of molecular electronics and and molecular magnetism with the advantages of spintronics.

The main goal of COSMICS is the manipulation of the electron spin by a wise combination of ad-hoc molecules and inorganic substrate. Besides the rich magnetic behavior resulting from the interaction between a magnetic molecule and a metal surface, or vice versa, additional functions such as switchability by external parameters like light or voltage can be integrated. “We want to find general rules to get the optimal combination of molecule and substrats. But more than just explaining we also want to predict the underlying effects”, says Barreteau. Therefore, the interdisciplinary research team wants to develop efficient, reliable and user-friendly modelling tools for the atomistic simulations of materials. Groups from science as well as from industry shall be able to use them. The special novelty of their project is to combine and develop the most up to date modelling tools with cutting-edge well-controlled and calibrated experimental methods to prove them.

“To realize these goals we need to combine the special competences of the different project partners. For example, the group from Kiel is specialized in manipulating molecules one by one”, Barreteau stresses at the workshop at Kiel University. “I am glad that the European Union enables leading groups of this field to work together on this project”, says Professor Richard Berndt, leader of the research team “Scanning Tunneling Microscopy” at the Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics at Kiel University. Essential preliminary works originate from the Collaborative Research Centre 677 “Function by Switching” at Kiel University.

    Consortium partners:

    • Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique et aux Energies Alternatives (CEA), Coordinator
    • Kiel University  (CAU)
    • Université Paris Diderot (UPD)
    • Universitat de Valencia (UVEG)
    • Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
    • Software-Unternehmen Synopsys Denmark (SNPS DK)

    More information:


    About the priority research area KiNSIS:

    Details, which are only a millionth of a millimetre in size: this is what the priority research area "Kiel Nano, Surface and Interface Science – KiNSIS" at Kiel University has been working on. In the nano-cosmos, different laws prevail than in the macroscopic world - those of quantum physics. Through intensive, interdisciplinary cooperation between physics, chemistry, engineering and life sciences, the priority research area aims to understand the systems in this dimension and to implement the findings in an application-oriented manner. Molecular machines, innovative sensors, bionic materials, quantum computers, advanced therapies and much more could be the result. More information at


    Group picture
    Siekmann, CAU

    The European consortium COSMICS investigates magnetic effects in molecules, that coud be used for devleoping new electronic components.

    Siekmann, CAU

    Professor Cyrille Barreteau from the French Research Organisation CEA reports current research results at the workshop in Kiel.

    © Siekmann, Uni Kiel

    How to manipulate single molecules: Dr Manuel Gruber presents results from the working group of Kiel.

    Workshop participant
    Siekmann, CAU

    Regular scientific exchange: Joint workshops take place at alternate partner institutions.


    Prof. Dr. phil. Richard Berndt
    Working group Scanning Tunneling Microscopy
    Kiel University
    +49 431 880-3946


    Julia Siekmann
    Science Communication Officer, Research area Kiel Nano Surface and Interface Sciences