Controlling the rectification properties of molecular junctions through molecule–electrode coupling†
The development of molecular components functioning as switches, rectifiers or amplifiers is a great challenge in molecular electronics. A desirable property of such components is functional robustness, meaning that the intrinsic functionality of components must be preserved regardless of the strategy used to integrate them into the final assemblies. Here, this issue is investigated for molecular diodes based on N-phenylbenzamide (NPBA) backbones. The transport properties of molecular junctions derived from NPBA are characterized while varying the nature of the functional groups interfacing the backbone and the gold electrodes required for break-junction measurements. Combining experimental and theoretical methods, it is shown that at low bias (<0.85 V) transport is determined by the same frontier molecular orbital originating from the NPBA core, regardless of the anchoring group employed. The magnitude of rectification, however, is strongly dependent on the strength of the electronic coupling at the gold–NPBA interface and on the spatial distribution of the local density of states of the dominant transport channel of the molecular junction.