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Building Electronic Function Into Nanoscale Molecular Architectures



H D. Abruna, M Ratner, Roger D. van Zee


The use of molecules in electronic circuit has been the subject of recent study. Experimentally, two-terminal, molecular rectifiers have been demonstrated, three-terminal, single-molecule transistors demonstrated, and electromechanical molecular switches developed. Theoretically, complex formalisms have been reduced to useful algorithms, and exciting new sensing and switching paradigms proposed. In short, the progress has been substantial, and the promise of using molecules in electronic systems remains strong. At the same time, there is a need to assess, evaluate, and strategize. Some of the early findings and claims do not seem general now. Some of the most interesting characteristics of nanoscale molecular junctions, at first assumed to be molecular in origin, are now linked to interface effects. The metal-thiol attachment chemistry, which is almost ubiquitous in device prototypes, has long been known to be labile and prone to oxidation, and also suffers from a large mismatch between the metal and molecule energy levels. In addition, sharp-pencilled engineers are continuously raising issues of speed, heat management, and reliability. In summary, the need for inexpensive, ubiquitous sensors, information systems, adaptable neural networks, and electronics components is large and growing. The substantial progress in molecular electronics of the past decade makes molecules an interesting technology alternative. However, for this science to be transform into a technology, it is necessary for the behaviour observed in molecular electronic junctions to have a strong scientific and engineering basis.
NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR) - 7439
Report Number


charge transport, molecular electronics, nanoscale molecular architectures, self-assembly


Abruna, H. , Ratner, M. and van Zee, R. (2007), Building Electronic Function Into Nanoscale Molecular Architectures, NIST Interagency/Internal Report (NISTIR), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD (Accessed April 16, 2024)
Created August 29, 2007, Updated October 12, 2021