Observation of molecular orbital gating


The control of charge transport in an active electronic device depends intimately on the modulation of the internal charge density by an external node1. For example, a field-effect transistor relies on the gated electrostatic modulation of the channel charge produced by changing the relative position of the conduction and valence bands with respect to the electrodes. In molecular-scale devices2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10, a longstanding challenge has been to create a true three-terminal device that operates in this manner (that is, by modifying orbital energy). Here we report the observation of such a solid-state molecular device, in which transport current is directly modulated by an external gate voltage. Resonance-enhanced coupling to the nearest molecular orbital is revealed by electron tunnelling spectroscopy, demonstrating direct molecular orbital gating in an electronic device. Our findings demonstrate that true molecular transistors can be created, and so enhance the prospects for molecularly engineered electronic devices.

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Figure 1: Gate-controlled charge transport characteristics of a Au-ODT-Au junction.
Figure 2: Gate-controlled charge transport characteristics of a Au-BDT-Au junction.
Figure 3: Gated IET spectra and linewidth broadening of a Au-ODT-Au junction.
Figure 4: Resonantly enhanced IET spectra of a Au-BDT-Au junction.


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This work was supported by the Korean National Research Laboratory programme; a Korean National Core Research Center grant; the World Class University programme of the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; the Program for Integrated Molecular System at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology; the SystemIC2010 project of the Korean Ministry of Knowledge Economy; the US Army Research Office (W911NF-08-1-0365); and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Author Contributions T.L. planned and supervised the project; H.S. designed and performed the experiments; H.S., T.L. and M.A.R. analysed and interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript; H.J. designed the electrical measurement systems; Y.K. assisted in low-temperature electrical measurements; and Y.H.J. performed DFT calculations.

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Correspondence to Mark A. Reed or Takhee Lee.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Methods, Supplementary Figures S1-S10 with Legends, Supplementary Notes and Data, Supplementary Table S1 and Supplementary References. (PDF 800 kb)

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Song, H., Kim, Y., Jang, Y. et al. Observation of molecular orbital gating. Nature 462, 1039–1043 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature08639

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