The charge flow from a single C60 molecule to another one has been probed. Due to the constantly progressing miniaturization of electronic components, the performance of modern electronics could continuously beenhanced. However, when trying to further shrink the tiny nano-scaledstructures, severe obstacles have appeared. Now for the first time, a European research cooperation has succeeded in constructing an electrical circuit consiting of two single molecules and probe its electrical properties.
The results obtained by the German, French, Spanish and Danish researchers are presented in the recent issue of the renowned “PhysicalReview Letters” journal. The scientists employed football-shaped C60-molecules that were a billionth of a meter in diameter and promisedgreat potential for technical applications in materials science andnanotechnology, owing to its chemical and physical qualities.
Initially, the scientists lifted up one of the molecules with the tipof a scanning tunnelling microscope, then moved it towards an other molecule with a precision of few quadrillionths meter.
During this approach, the physicists managed to probe the charge flowbetween the two molecules. Understanding this electric current, whichdepends strongly on the molecules’ distance, is indispensable forfuture molecule-based electronics.
The experiment shows that the conductivity between the tangentmolecules is a hundred times lower than for a single C60-molecule andtherefore allows only for very weak electric current.
This result is crucial for modern nano-electronics, which willincorporate very closely arranged molecules, for unintentionalshort-circuits can be brought under control through certain molecularcharacteristics. Additionally carried out quantum mechanic calculationsare in line with the experimental results and also predict a merelysmall conductivity.
The newly gained insight into nano-scaled electric charge flow is animportant step for the design of molecular electronics. Furthermore,the extreme precision of manipulation and control of single moleculespresented by the scientists discloses new ways for exploringnano-electronic components.