Reactions in single-molecule junctions

Hongliang Chen*, Chuancheng Jia, Xin Zhu, Chen Yang, Xuefeng Guo*, J. Fraser Stoddart*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Developing new materials is a long-standing goal that extends across the fields of synthesis, catalysis, nanotechnology and materials science. Transforming one compound or material into another involves the gaining, losing and sharing of electrons at a molecular level. Investigating single-molecule reactions — and understanding how they provide information about or differ from reactions in the bulk — will deepen our understanding of chemical reactions and establish new frameworks in materials science. In this Review, we survey state-of-the-art chemical reactions occurring in single-molecule junctions. We explore the advantages of real-time testbeds that deliver detailed information about reaction dynamics, intermediates, transition states and solvent effects. We provide a quantitative perspective of the charge transport phenomena associated with chemical reactions at molecular tunnelling junctions, and we compare the behaviour of single-molecule reactions and those taking place in ensemble states. Finally, we explore the possibility of leveraging single-molecule catalysis for large-scale production of materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
JournalNature Reviews Materials
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Biomaterials
  • Energy (miscellaneous)
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films
  • Materials Chemistry


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