Longitudinal and transverse electron paramagnetic resonance in a scanning tunneling microscope

Tom S. Seifert*, Stepan Kovarik, Dominik M. Juraschek, Nicola A. Spaldin, Pietro Gambardella, Sebastian Stepanow

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy is widely used to characterize paramagnetic complexes. Recently, EPR combined with scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) achieved single-spin sensitivity with sub-angstrom spatial resolution. The excitation mechanism of EPR in STM, however, is broadly debated, raising concerns about widespread application of this technique. We present an extensive experimental study and modeling of EPR-STM of Fe and hydrogenated Ti atoms on a MgO surface. Our results support a piezoelectric coupling mechanism, in which the EPR species oscillate adiabatically in the inhomogeneous magnetic field of the STM tip. An analysis based on Bloch equations combined with atomic-multiplet calculations identifies different EPR driving forces. Specifically, transverse magnetic field gradients drive the spin-1/2 hydrogenated Ti, whereas longitudinal magnetic field gradients drive the spin-2 Fe. Also, our results highlight the potential of piezoelectric coupling to induce electric dipole moments, thereby broadening the scope of EPR-STM to nonpolar species and nonlinear excitation schemes.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabc5511
JournalScience advances
Issue number40
StatePublished - 30 Sep 2020
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Schweizerischer Nationalfonds zur Förderung der Wissenschaftlichen Forschung184259, 200021_163225


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