Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Manipulating molecules for a new breed of electronics

Date:
February 21, 2011
Source:
Arizona State University
Summary:
Scientists have demonstrated a clever way of controlling electrical conductance of a single molecule, by exploiting the molecule's mechanical properties.

When electrical devices are shrunk to a molecular scale, both electrical and mechanical properties of a given molecule become critical. Specific properties may be exploited, depending on the needs of the application. Here, a single molecule is attached at either end to a pair of gold electrodes, forming an electrical circuit, whose current can be measured.
Credit: Image courtesy of Arizona State University

In research recently appearing in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, Nongjian "NJ" Tao, a researcher at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has demonstrated a clever way of controlling electrical conductance of a single molecule, by exploiting the molecule's mechanical properties.

Such control may eventually play a role in the design of ultra-tiny electrical gadgets, created to perform myriad useful tasks, from biological and chemical sensing to improving telecommunications and computer memory.

Tao leads a research team used to dealing with the challenges entailed in creating electrical devices of this size, where quirky effects of the quantum world often dominate device behavior. As Tao explains, one such issue is defining and controlling the electrical conductance of a single molecule, attached to a pair of gold electrodes.

"Some molecules have unusual electromechanical properties, which are unlike silicon-based materials. A molecule can also recognize other molecules via specific interactions." These unique properties can offer tremendous functional flexibility to designers of nanoscale devices.

In the current research, Tao examines the electromechanical properties of single molecules sandwiched between conducting electrodes. When a voltage is applied, a resulting flow of current can be measured. A particular type of molecule, known as pentaphenylene, was used and its electrical conductance examined.

Tao's group was able to vary the conductance by as much as an order of magnitude, simply by changing the orientation of the molecule with respect to the electrode surfaces. Specifically, the molecule's tilt angle was altered, with conductance rising as the distance separating the electrodes decreased, and reaching a maximum when the molecule was poised between the electrodes at 90 degrees.

The reason for the dramatic fluctuation in conductance has to do with the so-called pi orbitals of the electrons making up the molecules, and their interaction with electron orbitals in the attached electrodes. As Tao notes, pi orbitals may be thought of as electron clouds, protruding perpendicularly from either side of the plane of the molecule. When the tilt angle of a molecule trapped between two electrodes is altered, these pi orbitals can come in contact and blend with electron orbitals contained in the gold electrode -- a process known as lateral coupling. This lateral coupling of orbitals has the effect of increasing conductance.

In the case of the pentaphenylene molecule, the lateral coupling effect was pronounced, with conductance levels increasing up to 10 times as the lateral coupling of orbitals came into greater play. In contrast, the tetraphenyl molecule used as a control for the experiments did not exhibit lateral coupling and conductance values remained constant, regardless of the tilt angle applied to the molecule. Tao says that molecules can now be designed to either exploit or minimize lateral coupling effects of orbitals, thereby permitting the fine-tuning of conductance properties, based on an application's specific requirements.

A further self-check on the conductance results was carried out using a modulation method. Here, the molecule's position was jiggled in 3 spatial directions and the conductance values observed. Only when these rapid perturbations specifically changed the tilt angle of the molecule relative to the electrode were conductance values altered, indicating that lateral coupling of electron orbitals was indeed responsible for the effect. Tao also suggests that this modulation technique may be broadly applied as a new method for evaluating conductance changes in molecular-scale systems.

The research was supported by the Department of Energy -- Basic Energy Science program.

In addition to directing the Biodesign Institute's Center for Bioelectronics and Biosensors, Tao is a professor in the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering, at ASU's Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and an affiliated professor of chemistry and biochemistry, physics and material engineering.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Arizona State University. The original article was written by Richard Harth, Science Writer at The Biodesign Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ismael Diez-Perez, Joshua Hihath, Thomas Hines, Zhong-Sheng Wang, Gang Zhou, Klaus Mόllen & Nongjian Tao. Controlling single-molecule conductance through lateral coupling of π orbitals. Nature Nanotechnology, 20 February 2011 DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2011.20

Cite This Page:

Arizona State University. "Manipulating molecules for a new breed of electronics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110220142929.htm>.
Arizona State University. (2011, February 21). Manipulating molecules for a new breed of electronics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110220142929.htm
Arizona State University. "Manipulating molecules for a new breed of electronics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110220142929.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

Virtual Reality Headsets Unveiled at Tokyo Game Show

AFP (Sep. 18, 2014) — Several companies unveiled virtual reality headsets at the Tokyo Game Show, Asia's largest digital entertainment exhibition. Duration: 00:48 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Apple's iOS8 Includes New 'Killswitch' To Curb Theft

Newsy (Sep. 18, 2014) — Apple's new operating system, iOS 8, comes with Apple's killswitch feature already activated, unlike all the models before it. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

Stocks Hit All-Time High as Fed Holds Steady

AP (Sep. 17, 2014) — The Federal Reserve signaled Wednesday that it plans to keep a key interest rate at a record low because a broad range of U.S. economic measures remain subpar. Stocks hit an all-time high on the news. (Sept. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Space Race Pits Bezos Vs Musk

Reuters - Business Video Online (Sep. 16, 2014) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' startup will team up with Boeing and Lockheed to develop rocket engines as Elon Musk races to have his rockets certified. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins