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Gate controlling of quantum interference and direct observation of anti-resonances in single molecule charge transport

An Author Correction to this article was published on 13 November 2019

This article has been updated


Quantum interference can profoundly affect charge transport in single molecules, but experiments can usually measure only the conductance at the Fermi energy. Because, in general, the most pronounced features of the quantum interference are not located at the Fermi energy, it is highly desirable to probe charge transport in a broader energy range. Here, by means of electrochemical gating, we measure the conductance and map the transmission functions of single molecules at and around the Fermi energy, and study signatures associated with constructive and destructive interference. With electrochemical gate control, we tune the quantum interference between the highest occupied molecular orbital and lowest unoccupied molecular orbital, and directly observe anti-resonance, a distinct feature of destructive interference. By tuning the molecule in and out of anti-resonance, we achieve continuous control of the conductance over two orders of magnitude, demonstrating a different gating mechanism to conventional field-effect transistors.

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Fig. 1: Para and meta molecules measured by a gate-controlled STM break junction.
Fig. 2: Conductance measurement of Para and Meta in mesitylene without gate applied.
Fig. 3: IV characteristics of Para and Meta.
Fig. 4: Conductance of Para and Meta versus gate potential.
Fig. 5: Conductance of Para and Meta single molecules measured at different gate potentials.
Fig. 6: Contact geometries and transmission functions.

Code availability

The DFT code CONQUEST is available at and the corresponding module used to calculate the quantum transport properties is available from M.B. upon reasonable request.

Data availability

The data that support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Change history

  • 13 November 2019

    An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.


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The authors (N.T. and Y.L.) thank D.N. Beratan and A. Nitzan for stimulating discussions. The authors acknowledge financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants nos. 21773117 and 21575062, to H.W., Z.W.), the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Japan (Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research on Innovative Areas ‘Molecular Architectonics: Orchestration of Single Molecules for Novel Functions’; grant no. 25110009, to Y.A. and M.B.), the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (Grant-in-Aid for Young Scientists (Start-up); KAKENHI grant no. 15H06889, to M.B.) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants nos. 21674023 and 51722301, to G.L. and G.Z.).

Author contributions

N.T., Y.L., L.X., G.Z., G.L., Y.A. and M.B. designed the research. G.L. and G.Z. synthesized the studied molecules. Y.L., A.R., H.W. and Z.W. performed and analysed the experiments. M.B., Y.A., D.R.B. and T.M. performed and analysed the DFT and transport calculations. Y.L., N.T., M.B. and G.L. wrote the paper. All authors contributed to revising the manuscript and agreed on its final content.

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Correspondence to Yoshihiro Asai, Gang Zhou or Nongjian Tao.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–19, Supplementary Methods: First-principles transport calculations, Supplementary References 1–17

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Li, Y., Buerkle, M., Li, G. et al. Gate controlling of quantum interference and direct observation of anti-resonances in single molecule charge transport. Nat. Mater. 18, 357–363 (2019).

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