Local ionic and electron heating in single-molecule junctions

Zhifeng Huang, Fang Chen, Roberto D'Agosta, Peter Bennett, Massimiliano Di Ventra, Nongjian Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

167 Scopus citations


A basic aim in molecular electronics is to understand transport through a single molecule connected to two electrodes. Substantial progress towards this goal has been made over the past decade as a result of advances in both experimental techniques and theoretical methods. Nonetheless, a fundamental and technologically important issue, current-induced local heating of molecules, has received much less attention. Here, we report on a combined experimental and theoretical study of local heating in single molecules (6-, 8- and 10-alkanedithiol) covalently attached to two gold electrodes as a function of applied bias and molecular length. We find that the effective local temperature of the molecular junction first increases with applied bias, and then decreases after reaching a maximum. At fixed bias, the effective temperature decreases with increasing molecular length. These experimental findings are in agreement with hydrodynamic predictions, which include both electron-phonon and electron-electron interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)698-703
Number of pages6
JournalNature nanotechnology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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