Physics and Chemistry of Single-Molecule Circuits
Department of Applied Physics, Columbia University
The proposal to create molecular analogs of circuit components dates back to the work of Aviram and Ratner from 1974, where they suggested using a single molecule as a diode circuit element in giving birth to the field of molecular electronics. This field has advanced tremendously since then; nanoscale single-molecule devices are now also used as test beds for understanding and controlling electron transfer across metal/organic interfaces. Despite the long-standing interest in creating molecular diodes, their experimental realization has been difficult, with only a handful of studies showing rectification at the single molecule level. In this talk, I will present methods to create single-molecule devices and measured their physical properties, including electronic transport and thermopower. I will then show how their molecular structure as well as the environment around these nanoscale systems can control their electronic characteristics.