Electronic transport in gadolinium atomic-size contacts

B. Olivera, C. Salgado, J. L. Lado, A. Karimi, V. Henkel, E. Scheer, J. Fernández-Rossier, Juan Jose Palacios, C. Untiedt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


We report on the fabrication, transport measurements, and density functional theory (DFT) calculations of atomic-size contacts made of gadolinium (Gd). Gd is known to have local moments mainly associated with f electrons. These coexist with itinerant s and d bands that account for its metallic character. Here we explore whether and how the local moments influence electronic transport properties at the atomic scale. Using both scanning tunneling microscope and lithographic mechanically controllable break junction techniques under cryogenic conditions, we study the conductance of Gd when only few atoms form the junction between bulk electrodes made of the very same material. Thousands of measurements show that Gd has an average lowest conductance, attributed to single-atom contact, below 2e2h. Our DFT calculations for monostrand chains anticipate that the f bands are fully spin polarized and insulating and that the conduction may be dominated by s, p, and d bands. We also analyze the electronic transport for model nanocontacts using the nonequilibrium Green's function formalism in combination with DFT. We obtain an overall good agreement with the experimental results for zero bias and show that the contribution to the electronic transport from the f channels is negligible and that from the d channels is marginal.

Original languageEnglish
Article number075409
JournalPhysical Review B
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 8 Feb 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


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