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Nanomechanical oscillations in a single-C60 transistor

Abstract

The motion of electrons through quantum dots is strongly modified by single-electron charging and the quantization of energy levels1,2. Much effort has been directed towards extending studies of electron transport to chemical nanostructures, including molecules3,4,5,6,7,8, nanocrystals9,10,11,12,13 and nanotubes14,15,16,17. Here we report the fabrication of single-molecule transistors based on individual C60 molecules connected to gold electrodes. We perform transport measurements that provide evidence for a coupling between the centre-of-mass motion of the C60 molecules and single-electron hopping18—a conduction mechanism that has not been observed previously in quantum dot studies. The coupling is manifest as quantized nano-mechanical oscillations of the C60 molecule against the gold surface, with a frequency of about 1.2 THz. This value is in good agreement with a simple theoretical estimate based on van der Waals and electrostatic interactions between C60 molecules and gold electrodes.

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Figure 1: Current–voltage (I–V) curves obtained from a single-C60 transistor at T = 1.5 K.
Figure 2: Two-dimensional differential conductance (∂I/∂ V) plots as a function of the bias voltage (V) and the gate voltage (Vg).
Figure 3: A differential conductance plot showing a larger bias-voltage range than those in Fig. 2.
Figure 4: Diagram of the centre-of-mass oscillation of C60.

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Acknowledgements

We thank M. S. Fuhrer and N. S. Wingreen for discussions and advice. This work was supported by the US Department of Energy. E.A. was also partially supported by DARPA.

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Correspondence to Paul L. McEuen.

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Park, H., Park, J., Lim, A. et al. Nanomechanical oscillations in a single-C60 transistor. Nature 407, 57–60 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35024031

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