According to quantum mechanics, small magnetic objects called nanomagnets can exist in two distinct states (i.e. north pole up and north pole down). They can switch their state through a phenomenon called quantum tunneling.
When the nanomagnet switches its poles, the abrupt change in its magnetization can be observed with low-temperature magnetometry techniques used in del Barco’s lab. The switch is called quantum tunneling because it looks like a funnel cloud tunneling from one pole to another.
Del Barco published paper shows that two almost independent halves of a new magnetic molecule can tunnel, or switch poles, at once under certain conditions. In the process, they appear to cancel out quantum tunneling.
“It’s similar to what can be observed when two rays of light run into interference,” del Barco said. “Once they run into the interference you can expect darkness.”
Controlling quantum tunneling shifts could help create the quantum logic gates necessary to create quantum computers. It is believed that among the different existing proposals to obtain a practical quantum computer, the spin (magnetic moment) of solid-state devices is the most promising one.
Here is a paper on their previous work to make single electron transistors to study single molecule nanomagnets