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Researchers discover a potential on-off switch for nanoelectronics
Date:3/3/2009

' individual molecules and measuring their electrical conductance," said Neaton. "Forming reliable contacts between nanostructures and 'alligator clip' electrical leads is extremely challenging. This made experiments difficult to interpret, and as a result, reported conductance valuesin experiment and theoryoften varied by an order of magnitude or more. The time was ripe for a quantitative comparison between theory and an experiment with well-defined contacts."

Through the Molecular Foundry user program, Su Ying Quek, a postdoctoral researcher, worked with Neaton and Latha Venkataraman, an experimental researcher at Columbia University, using a scanning tunneling microscope (STM), which probes changes in current across a material's surface with a conductive gold tip. Previous work had shown a gold STM tip could be repeatedly be plunged into a gold surface containing a solution of molecules and retracted, until the contact area between the tip and gold surface reduces to a single strand, like a necklace. When this strand finally breaks, nearby molecules can hop into the gap between strands and contact the gold electrodes, resulting in a sudden change in conductance. Using this technique, Venkataraman and colleagues, including Mark Hybertsen at Brookhaven National Lab, had recently discovered that the conductance of molecules containing amines (a group of molecules related to ammonia) in contact with gold electrodes could be reliably measured.

"We now had a reproducible and consistent data set to benchmark our theory," said Quek. "Comparing with this data set, we discovered important electron correlation effects previously missing. When we added these, we foundfor the first timequantitative agreement with experimental results."

Using their new theoretical approach, Quek and Neaton, together with Hybertsen and collaborators Steven G. Louie of University of California Berkeley and Hyoung Joon Choi of Yonsei University in Korea, began to stud
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Contact: Aditi Risbud
ASRisbud@lbl.gov
510-486-4861
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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