Over the past two decades, various techniques for fabricating nano-gapped electrodes have emerged, promoting rapid development in the field of single-molecule electronics, on both the experimental and theoretical sides. To investigate intrinsic quantum phenomena and achieve desired functionalities, it is important to fully understand the charge transport characteristics of single-molecule devices. In this Review, we present the principles that have been developed for fabricating reliable molecular junctions and tuning their intrinsic properties from an engineering perspective. Through holistic consideration of the device structure, we divide single-molecule junctions into three intercorrelated components: the electrode, the contact (spacer–linker) interface and the molecular backbone or functional centre. We systematically discuss the selection of the electrode material and the design of the molecular components from the point of view of the materials, the interface and molecular engineering. The influence of the properties of these elements on the molecule–electrode interface coupling and on the relative energy gap between the Fermi level of the electrode and the orbital energy levels of the molecule, which directly influence the charge transport behaviour of single-molecule devices, is also a focus of our analysis. On the basis of these considerations, we examine various functionalities demonstrated in molecular junctions through molecular design and engineering.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Nature Reviews Physics|
|State||Published - 2019|
Xin, N., Guan, J., Zhou, C., Chen, X., Gu, C., Li, Y., Ratner, M. A., Nitzan, A., Stoddart, J. F., & Guo, X. (2019). Concepts in the design and engineering of single-molecule electronic devices. Nature Reviews Physics, 1, 211-230.