Thermally activated charge transport in carbon atom chains
Charge transport through single molecules is at the heart of molecular electronics for realizing the practical use of the rich quantum characteristics of electrode–molecule–electrode systems. Despite the extensive studies reported in the past, little experimental efforts have been focused on the electron transport mechanism at a temperature higher than the ambient temperature. In this work, we have reported the observation of the subtle interplay between electron tunneling and charge hopping in carbon chains connected to two Au electrodes at elevated temperatures. We measured the single-molecule conductance of Au–alkanedithiol–Au molecular junctions at various temperatures from 300 K to 420 K in vacuum. The temperature dependence of conductance suggested substantial roles of superexchange with inter-chain charge hopping under elevated temperatures for alkane chains longer than heptane. This finding provides a guide to design functional molecular junctions under practical conditions.