A computational study of potential molecular switches that exploit Baird's rule on excited-state aromaticity and antiaromaticity†
A series of tentative single-molecule conductance switches which could be triggered by light were examined by computational means using density functional theory (DFT) with non-equilibrium Green's functions (NEGF). The switches exploit the reversal in electron counting rules for aromaticity and antiaromaticity upon excitation from the electronic ground state (S0) to the lowest ππ* excited singlet and triplet states (S1 or T1), as described by Hückel's and Baird's rules, respectively. Four different switches and one antifuse were designed which rely on various photoreactions that either lead from the OFF to the ON states (switches 1, 2 and 4, and antifuse 5) or from the ON to the OFF state (switch 3). The highest and lowest ideal calculated switching ratios are 1175 and 5, respectively, observed for switches 1 and 4. Increased thermal stability of the 1-ON isomer is achieved by benzannulation (switch 1B-OFF/ON). The effects of constrained electrode–electrode distances on activation energies for thermal hydrogen back-transfer from 1-ON to 1-OFF and the relative energies of 1-ON and 1-OFF at constrained geometries were also studied. The switching ratio is strongly distance-dependent as revealed for 1B-ON/OFF where it equals 711 and 148 when the ON and OFF isomers are calculated in electrode gaps with distances confined to either that of the OFF isomer or to that of the ON isomer, respectively.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Organic Photonics and Electronics