Molecular signatures in the transport properties of molecular wire junctions: What makes a junction "molecular"?

Alessandro Troisi, Mark A. Ratner

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


The simplest component of molecular electronics consists of a single-molecule transport junction: a molecule sandwiched between source and drain electrodes, with or without a third gate electrode. In this Concept article, we focus on how molecules control transport in metal-electrode molecular junctions, and where the molecular signatures are to be found. In the situation where the molecule is relatively short and the gap between injection energy and molecular eigenstates is large, transport occurs largely by elastic tunneling, stochastic switching is common, and the vibronic signature can be found using inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy (IETS). As the energy gaps for injection become smaller, one begins to see stronger molecular signatures - these include Franck-Condon-like structures in the current/voltage characteristic and strong vibronic interactions, which can lead to hopping behavior at the polaron limit. Conformational changes induced by the strong electric field lead to another strong manifestation of the molecular nature of the junction. We overview some of this mechanistic landscape, focusing on significant effects of switching (both stochastic and controlled by the electric field) and of molecular vibronic coupling.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)172-181
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2006


  • Break junctions
  • Molecular electronics
  • Self-assembled monolayers
  • Single-molecule studies
  • Tunneling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomaterials
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)

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