Controlling single-molecule conductance through lateral coupling of φ orbitals

Ismael Diez-Perez, Joshua Hihath, Thomas Hines, Zhong Sheng Wang, Gang Zhou, Klaus Müllen, Nongjian Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

133 Scopus citations


In recent years, various single-molecule electronic components have been demonstrated. However, it remains difficult to predict accurately the conductance of a single molecule and to control the lateral coupling between the φ orbitals of the molecule and the orbitals of the electrodes attached to it. This lateral coupling is well known to cause broadening and shifting of the energy levels of the molecule; this, in turn, is expected to greatly modify the conductance of an electrode-molecule-electrode junction. Here, we demonstrate a new method, based on lateral coupling, to mechanically and reversibly control the conductance of a single-molecule junction by mechanically modulating the angle between a single pentaphenylene molecule bridged between two metal electrodes. Changing the angle of the molecule from a highly tilted state to an orientation nearly perpendicular to the electrodes changes the conductance by an order of magnitude, which is in qualitative agreement with theoretical models of molecular φ-orbital coupling to a metal electrode. The lateral coupling is also directly measured by applying a fast mechanical perturbation in the horizontal plane, thus ruling out changes in the contact geometry or molecular conformation as the source for the conductance change.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)226-231
Number of pages6
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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