Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Advances in Molecular Electronics: Lights On – Molecule On

20.04.2015

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and the University of Konstanz are working on storing and processing information on the level of single molecules to create the smallest possible components that will combine autonomously to form a circuit. As recently reported in the academic journal Advanced Science, the researchers can switch on the current flow through a single molecule for the first time with the help of light.

Dr. Artur Erbe, physicist at the HZDR, is convinced that in the future molecular electronics will open the door for novel and increasingly smaller – while also more energy efficient - components or sensors: “Single molecules are currently the smallest imaginable components capable of being integrated into a processor.”


Lights on – molecule on. For the first time a light beam switches a single molecule to closed state (red atoms). At the ends of the diarylethene molecule gold electrodes are attached. This way, the molecule functions as an electrical switch.

Picture: HZDR/Pfefferkorn

Scientists have yet to succeed in tailoring a molecule so that it can conduct an electrical current and that this current can be selectively turned on and off like an electrical switch.

This requires a molecule in which an otherwise strong bond between individual atoms dissolves in one location – and forms again precisely when energy is pumped into the structure. Dr. Jannic Wolf, chemist at the University of Konstanz, discovered through complex experiments that a particular diarylethene compound is an eligible candidate.

The advantages of this molecule, approximately three nanometres in size, are that it rotates very little when a point in its structure opens and it possesses two nanowires that can be used as contacts. The diarylethene is an insulator when open and becomes a conductor when closed. It thus exhibits a different physical behaviour, a behaviour that the scientists from Konstanz and Dresden were able to demonstrate with certainty in numerous reproducible measurements for the first time in a single molecule.

A computer from a test-tube

A special feature of these molecular electronics is that they take place in a fluid within a test-tube, where the molecules are contacted within the solution. In order to ascertain what effects the solution conditions have on the switching process, it was therefore necessary to systematically test various solvents.

The diarylethene needs to be attached at the end of the nanowires to electrodes so that the current can flow. “We developed a nanotechnology at the HZDR that relies on extremely thin tips made of very few gold atoms. We stretch the switchable diarylethene compound between them,” explains Dr. Erbe.

When a beam of light then hits the molecule, it switches from its open to its closed state, resulting in a flowing current. “For the first time ever we could switch on a single contacted molecule and prove that this precise molecule becomes a conductor on which we have used the light beam," says Dr. Erbe, pleased with the results.

"We have also characterized the molecular switching mechanism in extremely high detail, which is why I believe that we have succeeded in making an important step toward a genuine molecular electronic component.”

Switching off, however, does not yet work with the contacted diarylethene, but the physicist is confident: “Our colleagues from the HZDR theory group are computing how precisely the molecule must rotate so that the current is interrupted. Together with the chemists from Konstanz, we will be able to accordingly implement the design and synthesis for the molecule.”

However, a great deal of patience is required because it’s a matter of basic research. The diarylethene molecule contact using electron-beam lithography and the subsequent measurements alone lasted three long years. Approximately ten years ago, a working group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands had already managed to construct a switch that could interrupt the current. The off-switch also worked only in one direction, but what couldn't be proven at the time with certainty was that the change in conductivity was bound to a single molecule.

Nano-electronics in Dresden

One area of research focus in Dresden is what is known as self-organization. “DNA molecules are, for instance, able to arrange themselves into structures without any outside assistance. If we succeed in constructing logical switches from self-organizing molecules, then computers of the future will come from test-tubes," Dr. Erbe prophesizes.

The enormous advantages of this new technology are obvious: billion-euro manufacturing plants that are necessary for manufacturing today’s microelectronics could be a thing of the past. The advantages lie not only in production but also in operating the new molecular components, as they both will require very little energy.

With the Helmholtz Research School NANONET, the conditions for investigating and developing the molecular electronics of tomorrow are quite positive in Dresden. In addition to the HZDR, the Technische Universität Dresden, Leibniz-Institute of Polymer Research Dresden (IPF), the Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technology and Systems (IKTS) and the NaMLab gGmbH all participate in running the structured doctoral program.

Publication:
T. Sendler, K. Luka-Guth, M. Wieser, Lokamani, J. Wolf, M. Helm, S. Gemming, J. Kerbusch, E. Scheer, T. Huhn, A. Erbe: “Light-Induced Switching of Tunable Single Molecule Junctions”, in Advanced Science, published online on April 16, 2015, DOI: 10.1002/advs.201500017

Further Information:
Dr. Artur Erbe | Institute of Ion Beam Physics and Materials Research at the HZDR
Phone: +49 351 260 2366 | Email: a.erbe@hzdr.de

Prof. Dr. Elke Scheer | University of Konstanz | Department of Physics
Tel. +49 7531 88 4712 | Email: Elke.Scheer@uni-konstanz.de

Media Contact:
Dr. Christine Bohnet | Public Relations Officer
Bautzner Landstr. 400 | 01328 Dresden | Germany
Phone: +49 351 260 2450 | Email: c.bohnet@hzdr.de

University of Konstanz | Communications and Marketing
Universitätsstraße 10 | 78464 Konstanz
Phone: +49 7531 88 3603 | Email: kum@uni-konstanz.de

The Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) conducts research in the sectors energy, health, and matter. It has been a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany’s largest research organization, since 2011. Several large-scale research facilities provide unique research opportunities. These facilities are also accessible to external users. The HZDR employs about 1,000 people – approximately 500 of whom are scientists, including 150 doctoral candidates.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.hzdr.de
http://www.uni.kn

Dr. Christine Bohnet | Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

nachricht Asian dust providing key nutrients for California's giant sequoias
28.03.2017 | University of California - Riverside

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>