Unsupervised feature recognition in single-molecule break junction data
Single-molecule break junction measurements deliver a huge number of conductance vs. electrode separation traces. Along such measurements the target molecules may bind to the electrodes in different geometries, and the evolution and rupture of the single-molecule junction may also follow distinct trajectories. The unraveling of the various typical trace classes is a prerequisite of the proper physical interpretation of the data. Here we exploit the efficient feature recognition properties of neural networks to automatically find the relevant trace classes. To eliminate the need for manually labeled training data we apply a combined method, which automatically selects training traces according to the extreme values of principal component projections or some auxiliary measured quantities, and then the network captures the features of these characteristic traces, and generalizes its inference to the entire dataset. The use of a simple neural network structure also enables a direct insight to the decision making mechanism. We demonstrate that this combined machine learning method is efficient in the unsupervised recognition of unobvious, but highly relevant trace classes within low and room temperature gold-4,4' bipyridine-gold single molecule break junction data.