Quantum interference effects offer opportunities to tune the electronic and thermoelectric response of a quantum-scale device over orders of magnitude. Here we focus on single-molecule devices, in which interference features may be strongly affected by both chemical and electronic modifications to the system. Although not always desirable, such a susceptibility offers insight into the importance of “small” terms, such as through-space coupling and many-body charge–charge correlations. Here we investigate the effect of these small terms using different Hamiltonian models with Hückel, gDFTB and many-body theory to calculate the transport through several single-molecule junctions, finding that terms that are generally thought to only slightly perturb the transport instead produce significant qualitative changes in the transport properties. In particular, we show that coupling of multiple interference features in cross-conjugated molecules by through-space coupling will lead to splitting of the features, as can correlation effects. The degeneracy of multiple interference features in cross-conjugated molecules appears to be significantly more sensitive to perturbations than those observed in equivalent cyclic systems and this needs to be considered if such supernodes are required for molecular thermoelectric devices.
gDFTB; Hückel model; many-body effects; molecular electronics; quantum interference; thermoelectrics; topology
This paper reports on the mechanical characterization of carbon nanomembranes (CNMs) with a thickness of 1 nm that are fabricated by electron-induced crosslinking of aromatic self-assembled monolayers (SAMs). A novel type of in situ bulge test employing an atomic force microscope (AFM) is utilized to investigate their mechanical properties. A series of biphenyl-based molecules with different types of terminal and/or anchor groups were used to prepare the CNMs, such as 4'-[(3-trimethoxysilyl)propoxy]-[1,1'-biphenyl]-4-carbonitrile (CBPS), 1,1'-biphenyl-4-thiol (BPT) and 4-nitro-1,1'-biphenyl-4-thiol (NBPT). The elastic properties, viscoelastic behaviors and ultimate tensile strength of these biphenyl-based CNMs are investigated and discussed.
bulge test; carbon nanomembrane; mechanical characterization; self-assembled monolayers; two-dimensional materials
The potential for manipulation and control inherent in molecule-based motors holds great scientific and technological promise. Molecules containing the azobenzene group have been heavily studied in this context. While the effects of the cis–trans isomerization of the azo group in such molecules have been examined macroscopically by a number of techniques, modulations of the elastic modulus upon isomerization in self-assembled films were not yet measured directly. Here, we examine the mechanical response upon optical switching of bis[(1,1'-biphenyl)-4-yl]diazene organized in a self-assembled film on Au islands, using atomic force microscopy. Analysis of higher harmonics by means of a torsional harmonic cantilever allowed real-time extraction of mechanical data. Quantitative analysis of elastic modulus maps obtained simultaneously with topographic images show that the modulus of the cis-form is approximately twice that of the trans-isomer. Quantum mechanical and molecular dynamics studies show good agreement with this experimental result, and indicate that the stiffer response in the cis-form comprises contributions both from the individual molecular bonds and from intermolecular interactions in the film. These results demonstrate the power and insights gained from cutting-edge AFM technologies, and advanced computational methods.
AFM; azobenzene; elastic modulus; molecular dynamics; nanomechanics; photoswitch; quantum mechanics computation; self-assembled monolayer
The ability to control the properties of self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) attached to solid surfaces and the rare photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide provide a rationale for the study of systems comprising both. Such systems can be realized in the form of SAMs grown on TiO2 or, in a complementary manner, as TiO2 grown on SAMs. Accordingly, the current status of knowledge regarding SAMs on TiO2 is described. Photocatalytic phenomena that are of specific relevance to SAMs, such as remote degradation, and cases where SAMs were used to study photocatalytic phenomena, are discussed as well. Mastering of micro-patterning is a key issue en route to a successful assimilation of a variety of titanium dioxide based devices. Accordingly, particular attention is given to the description of a variety of methods and techniques aimed at utilizing the photocatalytic properties of titanium dioxide for patterning. Reports on a variety of applications are discussed. These examples, representing the areas of photovoltaics, microelectronics, microelectromechanics, photocatalysis, corrosion prevention and even biomedicine should be regarded as appetizers paving the way for further studies to be performed.
photocatalysis; remote degradation; self-assembled monolayers; titanium dioxide
Background: The effect of electric current on the motion of atoms still poses many questions, and several mechanisms are at play. Recently there has been focus on the importance of the current-induced nonconservative forces (NC) and Berry-phase derived forces (BP) with respect to the stability of molecular-scale contacts. Systems based on molecules bridging electrically gated graphene electrodes may offer an interesting test-bed for these effects.
Results: We employ a semi-classical Langevin approach in combination with DFT calculations to study the current-induced vibrational dynamics of an atomic carbon chain connecting electrically gated graphene electrodes. This illustrates how the device stability can be predicted solely from the modes obtained from the Langevin equation, including the current-induced forces. We point out that the gate offers control of the current, independent of the bias voltage, which can be used to explore current-induced vibrational instabilities due the NC/BP forces. Furthermore, using tight-binding and the Brenner potential we illustrate how Langevin-type molecular-dynamics calculations including the Joule heating effect for the carbon-chain systems can be performed. Molecular dynamics including current-induced forces enables an energy redistribution mechanism among the modes, mediated by anharmonic interactions, which is found to be vital in the description of the electrical heating.
Conclusion: We have developed a semiclassical Langevin equation approach that can be used to explore current-induced dynamics and instabilities. We find instabilities at experimentally relevant bias and gate voltages for the carbon-chain system.
carbon-nanoelectronics; current-induced forces; molecular contacts; nanoscale Joule heating; semiclassical Langevin equation
The effect of depositing FeO nanoparticles with a diameter of 10 nm onto the surface of MgB2 thin films on the critical current density was studied in comparison with the case of uncoated MgB2 thin films. We calculated the superconducting critical current densities (J
c) from the magnetization hysteresis (M–H) curves for both sets of samples and found that the J
c value of FeO-coated films is higher at all fields and temperatures than the J
c value for uncoated films, and that it decreases to ~105 A/cm2 at B = 1 T and T = 20 K and remains approximately constant at higher fields up to 7 T.
critical current; magnesium diboride; nanoparticles; pinning; superconductivity
The self-assembly properties of a series of functionalized regioregular oligo(3-alkylthiophenes) were investigated by using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) at the liquid–solid interface under ambient conditions. The characteristics of the 2-D crystals formed on the (0001) plane of highly ordered pyrolitic graphite (HOPG) strongly depend on the length of the π-conjugated oligomer backbone, on the functional groups attached to it, and on the alkyl substitution pattern on the individual thiophene units. Theoretical calculations were performed to analyze the geometry and electronic density of the molecular orbitals as well as to analyze the intermolecular interactions, in order to obtain models of the 2-D molecular ordering on the substrate.
2-D crystals; functionalized oligothiophenes; H-bonding; intermolecular interaction; scanning tunneling microscopy
Polymethylmethacrylate (PMMA)/ceria composite fibres were synthesized by using a sequential combination of polymer electrospinning, spray-coating with a sol, and a final calcination step to yield microstructured ceria tubes, which are composed of nanocrystalline ceria particles. The PMMA template is removed from the organic/inorganic hybrid material by radio frequency (rf) plasma etching followed by calcination of the ceramic green-body fibres. Microsized ceria (CeO2) tubes, with a diameter of ca. 0.75 µm, composed of nanocrystalline agglomerated ceria particles were thus obtained. The 1-D ceramic ceria material was characterized by X-ray diffraction, scanning electron microscopy (SEM), high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM), UV–vis and photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL), as well as thermogravimetric analysis (TGA). Its catalytic performance was studied in the direct carboxylation of methanol with carbon dioxide leading to dimethyl carbonate [(CH3O)2CO, DMC], which is widely employed as a phosgene and dimethyl sulfate substitute, and as well as a fuel additive.
activation of CO2; ceria; electrospinning; exotemplating; nanotubes
In the last decade, research concerning nanoporous siliceous materials has been focused on mesoporous materials with intrinsic zeolitic features. These materials are thought to be superior, because they are able to combine (i) the enhanced diffusion and accessibility for larger molecules and viscous fluids typical of mesoporous materials with (ii) the remarkable stability, catalytic activity and selectivity of zeolites. This review gives an overview of the state of the art concerning combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials. Focus is put on the synthesis and the applications of the combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials. The different synthesis approaches and formation mechanisms leading to these materials are comprehensively discussed and compared. Moreover, Ti-containing nanoporous materials as redox catalysts are discussed to illustrate a potential implementation of combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials.
catalysis; characterization; combined zeolitic/mesoporous materials; synthesis
We report the rational control of the nanostructure and surface morphology of a polyamine@silica nanoribbon-based hybrid nanograss film, which was generated by performing a biomimetic silica mineralization reaction on a nanostructured linear polyethyleneimine (LPEI) layer preorganized on the inner wall of a glass tube. We found that the film thickness, size and density of the nanoribbons and the aggregation/orientation of the nanoribbons in the film were facile to tune by simple adjustment of the biomimetic silicification conditions and LPEI self-assembly on the substrate. Our LPEI-mediated nanograss process allows the facile and programmable generation of a wide range of nanostructures and surface morphologies without the need for complex molecular design or tedious techniques. This ribbon-based nanograss has characteristics of a LPEI@silica hybrid structure, suggesting that LPEI, as a polymeric secondary amine, is available for subsequent chemical reaction. This feature was exploited to functionalize the nanograss film with three representative species, namely porphyrin, Au nanoparticles and titania. Of particular note, the novel silica@titania composite nanograss surface demonstrated the ability to convert its wetting behavior between the extreme states (superhydrophobic–superhydrophilic) by surface hydrophobic treatment and UV irradiation. The anatase titania component in the nanograss film acts as a highly efficient photocatalyst for the decomposition of the low-surface-energy organic components attached to the nanosurface. The ease with which the nanostructure can be controlled and facilely functionalized makes our nanograss potentially important for device-based application in microfluidic, microreactor and biomedical fields.
biomimetic silica mineralization; linear polyethyleneimine; nanofiber; nanograss; thin film
We investigated the effect of the environment on the electrical conductance of a single benzene-1,4-diamine (BDA) molecule bridging Au electrodes, using the scanning tunneling microscope (STM). The conductance of the single BDA molecule junction decreased upon a change in the environment from tetraglyme, to mesitylene, to water, and finally to N2 gas, while the spread in the conductance value increased. The order of the conductance values of the single BDA molecule junction was explained by the strength of the interaction between the solvent molecules and the Au electrodes. The order of the spread in the conductance values was explained by the diversity in the coverage of the BDA molecule at metal electrodes and atomic and molecular motion of the single-molecule junction.
benzene-1,4-diamine; electric conductance; single-molecule junction; solvent
The calculation of the electronic conductance of nanoscale junctions from first principles is a long-standing problem in the field of charge transport. Here we demonstrate excellent agreement with experiments for the transport properties of the gold/alkanediamine benchmark system when electron–electron interactions are described by the many-body GW approximation. The conductance follows an exponential length dependence: G
n = G
c exp(−βn). The main difference from standard density functional theory (DFT) calculations is a significant reduction of the contact conductance, G
c, due to an improved alignment of the molecular energy levels with the metal Fermi energy. The molecular orbitals involved in the tunneling process comprise states delocalized over the carbon backbone and states localized on the amine end groups. We find that dynamic screening effects renormalize the two types of states in qualitatively different ways when the molecule is inserted in the junction. Consequently, the GW transport results cannot be mimicked by DFT calculations employing a simple scissors operator.
alkanes; density functional theory; electron transport; gold junction; GW
We study the crossover of quantum point contacts from (i) individual-atom contacts to (ii) electronic-shell effects and finally to (iii) geometric-shell effects in electrochemically deposited silver contacts. The method allows the fabrication of mechanically unstrained structures, which is a requirement for determining the individual atomic configuration by means of a detailed lifetime analysis of their conductance. Within the geometric-shell model, the sequence of conductance maxima is explained quantitatively based on the crystal structure data of silver, and the growth mechanism of the nanowires is discussed.
nanowires; quantum point contacts; shell effect; silver
Mass-selected, ligand-free FeN clusters with N = 10–30 atoms (cluster diameter: 0.6–0.9 nm) were implanted into [Al@SiOx] surfaces at a low surface coverage corresponding to a few thousandths up to a few hundredths of a monolayer in order to avoid initial cluster agglomeration. These studies are aimed towards gaining an insight into the lower limit of the size regime of carbon nanotube (CNT) growth by employing size-selected sub-nm iron clusters as catalyst or precatalyst precursors for CNT growth. Agglomeration of sub-nm iron clusters to iron nanoparticles with a median size range between three and six nanometres and the CNT formation hence can be observed at CVD growth temperatures of 750 °C. Below 600 °C, no CNT growth is observed.
carbon nanotubes; CNT growth; metal clusters; size selected clusters
We give a physical interpretation of the recently demonstrated nonconservative nature of interatomic forces in current-carrying nanostructures. We start from the analytical expression for the curl of these forces, and evaluate it for a point defect in a current-carrying system. We obtain a general definition of the capacity of electrical current flow to exert a nonconservative force, and thus do net work around closed paths, by a formal noninvasive test procedure. Second, we show that the gain in atomic kinetic energy over time, generated by nonconservative current-induced forces, is equivalent to the uncompensated stimulated emission of directional phonons. This connection with electron–phonon interactions quantifies explicitly the intuitive notion that nonconservative forces work by angular momentum transfer.
atomic-scale conductors; current-induced forces; failure mechanisms; nanomotors
Optical properties of two series of fully conjugated cyclo[n]thiophenes were analyzed experimentally and theoretically. The absorption spectra reveal a shift to higher wavelengths with increasing size of the cycles, which can be successfully described by an excitonic approach based on a Frenkel exciton Hamiltonian. Furthermore, intriguing new bands in the absorption and fluorescence spectra of the smaller macrocycles disclose the dominance of their ring strain.
conjugated macrocycles; Frenkel exciton model; oligothiophene; photophysical properties
We study electron transport through a single-molecule magnet (SMM) and the interplay of its anisotropic spin with quantized vibrational distortions of the molecule. Based on numerical renormalization group calculations we show that, despite the longitudinal anisotropy barrier and small transverse anisotropy, vibrational fluctuations can induce quantum spin-tunneling (QST) and a QST-Kondo effect. The interplay of spin scattering, QST and molecular vibrations can strongly enhance the Kondo effect and induce an anomalous magnetic field dependence of vibrational Kondo side-bands.
molecular electronic devices; molecular magnets; nanoelectronic devices; quantum dots
π-Conjugation plays an important role in charge transport through single molecular junctions. We describe in this paper the construction of a mechanically controlled break-junction setup (MCBJ) equipped with a highly sensitive log I–V converter in order to measure ultralow conductances of molecular rods trapped between two gold leads. The current resolution of the setup reaches down to 10 fA. We report single-molecule conductance measurements of an anthracene-based linearly conjugated molecule (AC), of an anthraquinone-based cross-conjugated molecule (AQ), and of a dihydroanthracene-based molecule (AH) with a broken conjugation. The quantitative analysis of complementary current–distance and current–voltage measurements revealed details of the influence of π-conjugation on the single-molecule conductance.
anthraquinone; π-conjugation; mechanically controlled break junction; single-molecule conductance
We have investigated charge transport in ZnTPPdT–Pyr (TPPdT: 5,15-di(p-thiolphenyl)-10,20-di(p-tolyl)porphyrin) molecular junctions using the lithographic mechanically controllable break-junction (MCBJ) technique at room temperature and cryogenic temperature (6 K). We combined low-bias statistical measurements with spectroscopy of the molecular levels in the form of I(V) characteristics. This combination allows us to characterize the transport in a molecular junction in detail. This complex molecule can form different junction configurations, having an observable effect on the trace histograms and the current–voltage (I(V)) measurements. Both methods show that multiple, stable single-molecule junction configurations can be obtained by modulating the interelectrode distance. In addition we demonstrate that different ZnTPPdT–Pyr junction configurations can lead to completely different spectroscopic features with the same conductance values. We show that statistical low-bias conductance measurements should be interpreted with care, and that the combination with I(V) spectroscopy represents an essential tool for a more detailed characterization of the charge transport in a single molecule.
mechanically controllable break junction; molecular conformation; molecular electronics; porphyrin; single-molecule transport
Zinc oxide (ZnO) nanorods decorated with gold (Au) nanoparticles have been synthesized and used to fabricate dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC). The picosecond-resolved, time-correlated single-photon-count (TCSPC) spectroscopy technique was used to explore the charge-transfer mechanism in the ZnO/Au-nanocomposite DSSC. Due to the formation of the Schottky barrier at the ZnO/Au interface and the higher optical absorptions of the ZnO/Au photoelectrodes arising from the surface plasmon absorption of the Au nanoparticles, enhanced power-conversion efficiency (PCE) of 6.49% for small-area (0.1 cm2) ZnO/Au-nanocomposite DSSC was achieved compared to the 5.34% efficiency of the bare ZnO nanorod DSSC. The TCSPC studies revealed similar dynamics for the charge transfer from dye molecules to ZnO both in the presence and absence of Au nanoparticles. A slower fluorescence decay associated with the electron recombination process, observed in the presence of Au nanoparticles, confirmed the blocking of the electron transfer from ZnO back to the dye or electrolyte by the Schottky barrier formed at the ZnO/Au interface. For large area DSSC (1 cm2), ~130% enhancement in PCE (from 0.50% to 1.16%) was achieved after incorporation of the Au nanoparticles into the ZnO nanorods.
dye-sensitized solar cell; gold nanoparticle; picosecond spectroscopy; Schottky barrier; zinc oxide nanorod
Despite their importance in self-assembly processes, the influence of charged counterions on the geometry of self-assembled organic monolayers and their direct localisation within the monolayers has been given little attention. Recently, various examples of self-assembled monolayers composed of charged molecules on surfaces have been reported, but no effort has been made to prove the presence of counterions within the monolayer. Here we show that visualisation and exact localisation of counterions within self-assembled monolayers can be achieved with scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM). The presence of charges on the studied shape-persistent macrocycles is shown to have a profound effect on the self-assembly process at the liquid–solid interface. Furthermore, preferential adsorption was observed for the uncharged analogue of the macrocycle on a surface.
counterions; liquid–solid interface; macrocycles; scanning tunnelling microscopy; self-assembly