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Modulation and Control of Charge Transport Through Single-Molecule Junctions

  • Kun Wan
  • Bingqian Xu
Chapter
Part of the Topics in Current Chemistry Collections book series (TCCC)

Abstract

The ability to modulate and control charge transport though singlemolecule junction devices is crucial to achieving the ultimate goal of molecular electronics: constructing real-world-applicable electronic components from single molecules. This review aims to highlight the progress made in single-molecule electronics, emphasizing the development of molecular junction electronics in recent years. Among many techniques that attempt to wire a molecule to metallic electrodes, the single-molecule break junction (SMBJ) technique is one of the most reliable and tunable experimental platforms for achieving metal–molecule–metal configurations. It also provides great freedom to tune charge transport through the junction. Soon after the SMBJ technique was introduced, it was extensively used to measure the conductances of individual molecules; however, different conductances were obtained for the same molecule, and it proved difficult to interpret this wide distribution of experimental data. This phenomenon was later found to be mainly due to a lack of precise experimental control and advanced data analysis methods. In recent years, researchers have directed considerable effort into advancing the SMBJ technique by gaining a deeper physical understanding of charge transport through single molecules and thus enhancing its potential applicability in functional molecular-scale electronic devices, such as molecular diodes and molecular transistors. In parallel with that research, novel data analysis methods and approaches that enable the discovery of hidden yet important features in the data are being developed. This review discusses various aspects of molecular junction electronics, from the initial goal of molecular electronics, the development of experimental techniques for creating single-molecule junctions and determining single-molecule conductance, to the characterization of functional current–voltage features and the investigation of physical properties other than charge transport. In addition, the development of advanced data analysis methods is considered, as they are critical to gaining detailed physical insight into the underlying transport mechanisms.

Keywords

Molecular electronics Single-molecule break junction Mechanical modulation Molecule–electrode interfaces Rectification Negative differential conductance Gating effect 

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physics and Astronomy and NanoSECUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.College of Engineering and NanoSECUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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