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Optical probes of molecules as nano-mechanical switches

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Dean Kos, Giuliana Di Martino, Alexandra Boehmke, Bart de Nijs, Dénes Berta, Tamás Földes, Sara Sangtarash, Edina Rosta, Hatef Sadeghi, Jeremy J. Baumberg

Original languageEnglish
Article number5905
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
PublishedDec 2020

King's Authors


Molecular electronics promises a new generation of ultralow-energy information technologies, based around functional molecular junctions. Here, we report optical probing that exploits a gold nanoparticle in a plasmonic nanocavity geometry used as one terminal of a well-defined molecular junction, deposited as a self-assembled molecular monolayer on flat gold. A conductive transparent cantilever electrically contacts individual nanoparticles while maintaining optical access to the molecular junction. Optical readout of molecular structure in the junction reveals ultralow-energy switching of ∼50 zJ, from a nano-electromechanical torsion spring at the single molecule level. Real-time Raman measurements show these electronic device characteristics are directly affected by this molecular torsion, which can be explained using a simple circuit model based on junction capacitances, confirmed by density functional theory calculations. This nanomechanical degree of freedom is normally invisible and ignored in electrical transport measurements but is vital to the design and exploitation of molecules as quantum-coherent electronic nanodevices.

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