Confocal microscope image of a self-assembled monolayer of a polychlorotriphenyl methyl radical patterned on a quartz surface. This multifunctional molecule behaves as an electroactive switch with optical and magnetic response.
Tiny electronically active chemicals can be made to form ordered layers on a surface, thanks to research supported by the European Science Foundation (ESF) through the EUROCORES programne SONS 2 (Self-Organised NanoStructures).
These nanostructured layers may one day be used to build the components of electronics devices, such as transistors and switches, for a future generation of powerful computers based on molecules rather than silicon chips.
Speaking at the European Materials Research Society (EMRS) meeting in Strasbourg, SONS II scientist Marta Mas-Torrent explained the potential of nanotechnology: "Currently, there is a great interest in employing functional molecules as building blocks for preparing devices since this will facilitate the move towards device miniaturization."
On this scale, manipulating nanoscopic components requires skill and determination but by exploiting molecular self assembly, the researchers hope to build ordered layers just a single molecule thick using microcontact printing techniques borrowed from the electronics industry.
They are now creating different arrangements of monolayers on gold, silica, and other materials.
Mas-Torrent works with Nuria Crivillers and Concepcio Rovira in Jaume Veciana's group at CSIC, in Barcelona, Spain, and is a member of the Fun-SMARTs project of ESF's SONS initiative. In her talk, which won the symposium's most original research work, sponsored by Advanced Materials, she explained the importance of multifunctional organic radicals, molecules with a spare electron, such as polychorotriphenylmethyl (PTM) radicals, which can undergo self-assembly into these organised layers.
Organic free radicals are usually highly
|Contact: Dr. Angela Michiko Hama|
European Science Foundation