Anti-ohmic single molecule electron transport: is it feasible?†
Hitherto, only molecular wires with a regular ohmic behavior in which the electric conductance decreases with the wire length have been synthesized. Implementation of molecular conductors with reversed conductance/length trend (anti-ohmic) might revolutionize the field of molecular electronics, allowing the development of electronic devices with extraordinary properties. It is for this reason that, recently, theoretical efforts have been focused on this topic and different structures have been proposed to show reversed conductance/length behavior on the basis of density functional theory non-equilibrium Green function approach (DFT-NEGF) and topological models. From the previous works, it can be stated that an anti-ohmic molecular wire must display a very small HOMO–LUMO gap and a reversed bond alternation pattern in the case of polyenes and related conjugated systems. In this work, the pursuit of a mechanism by which the anti-ohmic electron transport may arise was carried out by studying the paradigmatic anti-ohmic p-xylylene chain (pX2) at the DFT level in combination with topological models. It has been found that the electron transport in the anti-ohmic regime is favored by a long-range superexchange mechanism, which, contrary to what is expected, is reinforced by the increase in the length of the chain. Moreover, strong links between anti-ohmic character in molecular wires and one-dimensional topological insulator models have been established. Due to the small HOMO–LUMO gap predicted at DFT level, the anti-ohmic character has been put to the proof using a multireference scenario. Preliminary results point out to the presence of different ohmic and anti-ohmic electronic states. In the particular case of pX2 the anti-ohmic states do not correspond to the ground state. These findings require a reconsideration of previous studies on the reversed conductance/length behavior using single reference methodologies.