Measurement and control of detailed electronic properties in a single molecule break junction
The lack of detailed experimental controls has been one of the major obstacles hindering progress in molecular electronics. While large fluctuations have been occurring in the experimental data, specific details, related mechanisms, and data analysis techniques are in high demand to promote our physical understanding at the single-molecule level. A series of modulations we recently developed, based on traditional scanning probe microscopy break junctions (SPMBJs), have helped to discover significant properties in detail which are hidden in the contact interfaces of a single-molecule break junction (SMBJ). For example, in the past we have shown that the correlated force and conductance changes under the saw tooth modulation and stretch–hold mode of PZT movement revealed inherent differences in the contact geometries of a molecular junction. In this paper, using a bias-modulated SPMBJ and utilizing emerging data analysis techniques, we report on the measurement of the altered alignment of the HOMO of benzene molecules with changing the anchoring group which coupled the molecule to metal electrodes. Further calculations based on Landauer fitting and transition voltage spectroscopy (TVS) demonstrated the effects of modulated bias on the location of the frontier molecular orbitals. Understanding the alignment of the molecular orbitals with the Fermi level of the electrodes is essential for understanding the behaviour of SMBJs and for the future design of more complex devices. With these modulations and analysis techniques, fruitful information has been found about the nature of the metal–molecule junction, providing us insightful clues towards the next step for in-depth study.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Organic Photonics and Electronics