Molecular lattices; spin–spin interaction; photo-induced magnetism; single molecule magnets.
The conventional magnetic materials used in current technology, such as, Fe, Fe2O3, Cr2O3, SmCo5, Nd2Fe14B etc are all atom-based, and their preparation/processing require high temperature routes. Employing self-assembly methods, it is possible to engineer a bulk molecular material with long-range magnetic order, mainly because one can play with the weak intermolecular interactions. Since the first successful synthesis of molecular magnets in 1986, a large variety of them have been synthesized, which can be categorized on the basis of the chemical nature of the magnetic units involved: organic-, metal-based systems, heterobimetallic assemblies, or mixed organic–inorganic systems. The design of molecule-based magnets has also been extended to the design of poly-functional molecular magnets, such as those exhibiting second-order optical nonlinearity, liquid crystallinity, or chirality simultaneously with long-range magnetic order. Solubility, low density and biocompatibility are attractive features of molecular magnets. Being weakly coloured, unlike their opaque classical magnet ‘cousins’ listed above, possibilities of photomagnetic switching exist. Persistent efforts also continue to design the ever-elusive polymer magnets towards applications in industry. While providing a brief overview of the field of molecular magnetism, this article highlights some recent developments in it, with emphasis on a few studies from the author’s own lab.