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Side-Group-Mediated Mechanical Conductance Switching In Molecular Junctions.

A. Ismael, K. Wang, Andrea Vezzoli, Mohsin K. Al-Khaykanee, Harry E. Gallagher, I. Grace, C. Lambert, Bingqian Xu, R. Nichols, S. Higgins
Published 2017 · Chemistry, Medicine

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A key target in molecular electronics has been molecules having switchable electrical properties. Switching between two electrical states has been demonstrated using such stimuli as light, electrochemical voltage, complexation and mechanical modulation. A classic example of the latter is the switching of 4,4'-bipyridine, leading to conductance modulation of around 1 order of magnitude. Here, we describe the use of side-group chemistry to control the properties of a single-molecule electromechanical switch, which can be cycled between two conductance states by repeated compression and elongation. While bulky alkyl substituents inhibit the switching behavior, π-conjugated side-groups reinstate it. DFT calculations show that weak interactions between aryl moieties and the metallic electrodes are responsible for the observed phenomenon. This represents a significant expansion of the single-molecule electronics "tool-box" for the design of junctions with electromechanical properties.
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