Tunneling currents that increase with molecular elongation

Ignacio Franco*, Gemma C. Solomon, George C. Schatz, Mark A. Ratner

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We present a model molecular system with an unintuitive transport-extension behavior in which the tunneling current increases with forced molecular elongation. The molecule consists of two complementary aromatic units (1,4-anthracenedione and 1,4-anthracenediol) hinged via two ether chains and attached to gold electrodes through thiol-terminated alkenes. The transport properties of the molecule as it is mechanically elongated in a single-molecule pulling setting are computationally investigated using a combination of equilibrium molecular dynamics simulations of the pulling with gDFTB computations of the transport properties in the Landauer limit. Contrary to the usual exponential decay of tunneling currents with increasing molecular length, the simulations indicate that upon elongation electronic transport along the molecule increases 10-fold. The structural origin of this inverted trend in the transport is elucidated via a local current analysis that reveals the dual role played by H-bonds in both stabilizing π-stacking for selected extensions and introducing additional electronic couplings between the complementary aromatic rings that also enhance tunneling currents across the molecule. The simulations illustrate an inverted electromechanical single-molecule switch that is based on a novel class of transport-extension behavior that can be achieved via mechanical manipulation and highlight the remarkable sensitivity of conductance measurements to the molecular conformation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15714-15720
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Chemical Society
Issue number39
StatePublished - Oct 5 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Catalysis
  • Colloid and Surface Chemistry


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