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Molecular Rectification And Conductance Switching In Carbon-based Molecular Junctions By Structural Rearrangement Accompanying Electron Injection.

R. McCreery, J. Dieringer, A. O. Solak, B. Snyder, Aletha M. Nowak, William R. McGovern, S. Duvall
Published 2003 · Chemistry, Medicine

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Molecular junctions were fabricated consisting of a 3.7 nm thick layer of nitroazobenzene (NAB) molecules between a pyrolyzed photoresist substrate (PPF) and a titanium top contact which was protected from oxidation by a layer of gold. Raman spectroscopy, XPS, and AFM revealed that the NAB layer was 2-3 molecules thick and was bonded to the two conducting contacts by C-C and N-Ti covalent bonds. The current/voltage behavior of the PPF/NAB(3.7)/Ti junctions showed strong and reproducible rectification, with the current at +2 V exceeding that at -2 V by a factor of 600. The observed current density at +3 V was 0.71 A/cm(2), or about 10(5) e(-)/s/molecule. The i/V response was strongly dependent on temperature and scan rate, with the rectification ratio decreasing for lower temperature and faster scans. Junction conductivity increased with time over several seconds at room temperature in response to positive voltage pulses, with the rate of increase larger for more positive potentials. Voltage pulses to positive potentials and back to zero volts revealed that electrons are injected from the Ti to the NAB, to the extent of about 0.1-1 e(-)/molecule for a +3 V pulse. These electrons cause an activated transition of the NAB into a more conductive quinoid state, which in turn causes an increase in conductivity. The transition to the quinoid state involves nuclear rearrangement which occurs on a submillisecond to several second time scale, depending on the voltage applied. The quinoid state is stable as long as the applied electric field is present, but reverts back to NAB within several minutes after the field is relaxed. The results are interpreted in terms of a thermally activated, potential dependent electron transfer into the 3.7 nm NAB layer, which brings about a conductivity increase of several orders of magnitude.
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