Effect of anchoring groups on single molecule charge transport through porphyrins

Zhihai Li, Manuel Smeu, Mark A. Ratner*, Eric Borguet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Controlling charge transport through individual molecules and further understanding the effect of anchoring groups on charge transport are central themes in molecule-based devices. However, in most anchoring effect studies, only two, or at most three nonthiol anchoring groups were studied and compared for a specific system, i.e., using the same core structure. The scarcity of direct comparison data makes it difficult to draw unambiguous conclusions on the anchoring group effect. In this contribution, we focus on the single molecule conductance of porphyrins terminated with a range of anchoring groups: sulfonate (-SO3-), hydroxyl (-OH), nitrile (-CN), amine (-NH 2), carboxylic acid (-COOH), benzyl (-C6H6), and pyridyl (-C6H5N). The present study represents a first attempt to investigate a broad series of anchoring groups in one specific molecule for a direct comparison. It also is the first attempt, to our knowledge, to explore single molecule conductivity with two novel anchoring groups sulfonate (-SO3-) and hydroxyl (-OH). Our experimental results reveal that the single molecule conductance values of the porphyrins follow the sequence of pyridyl > amine > sulfonate > nitrile > carboxylic acid. Electron transport calculations are in agreement that the pyridyl groups result in higher conductance values than the other groups, which is due to a stronger binding interaction of this group to the Au electrodes. The finding of a general trend in the effect of anchoring groups and the exploration of new anchoring groups reported in this paper may provide useful information for molecule-based devices, functional porphyrin design, and electron transfer/transport studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14890-14898
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number29
StatePublished - Jul 25 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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