Nanoelectronics – theory and simulation


A. Vegliante, S. Fernandez, R. Ortiz, M. Vilas-Varela, T. Baum, N. Friedrich, F. Romero-Lara, A. Aguirre, K. Vaxevani, D. Wang, C. Garcia, H. S. J. van der Zant, T. Frederiksen, D. Peña, and J. I. Pascual
Tuning the spin interaction in non-planar organic diradicals through mechanical manipulation
submitted [arXiv:2402.08641]

Open-shell polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) represent promising building blocks for carbon-based functional magnetic materials. Their magnetic properties stem from the presence of unpaired electrons localized in radical states of π character. Consequently, these materials are inclined to exhibit spin delocalization, form extended collective states, and respond to the flexibility of the molecular backbones. However, they are also highly reactive, requiring structural strategies to protect the radical states from reacting with the environment. Here, we demonstrate that the open-shell ground state of the diradical 2-OS survives on a Au(111) substrate as a global singlet formed by two unpaired electrons with anti-parallel spins coupled through a conformational dependent interaction. The 2-OS molecule is a protected derivative of the Chichibabin's diradical, featuring a non-planar geometry that destabilizes the closed-shell quinoidal structure. Using scanning tunneling microscopy (STM), we localized the two interacting spins at the molecular edges, and detected an excited triplet state a few millielectronvolts above the singlet ground state. Mean-field Hubbard simulations reveal that the exchange coupling between the two spins strongly depends on the torsional angles between the different molecular moieties, suggesting the possibility of influencing the molecule's magnetic state through structural changes. This was demonstrated here using the STM tip to manipulate the molecular conformation, while simultaneously detecting changes in the spin excitation spectrum. Our work suggests the potential of these PAHs for a new class of all-carbon spin-crossover materials.

S. Jiang, F. Scheurer, Q. Sun, P. Ruffieux, X. Yao, A. Narita, K. Müllen, R. Fasel, T. Frederiksen, and G. Schull
Length-independent quantum transport through topological band states of graphene nanoribbons
submitted [arXiv:2208.03145] [HTML5]

Atomically precise graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) have emerged as promising candidates for nanoelectronic applications due to their widely tunable energy band gaps resulting from lateral quantum confinement and edge effects. Here we report on the electronic transport characterization of an edge-modified GNR suspended between the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope (STM) and a Au(111) substrate. Differential conductance measurements on this metal-GNR-metal junction reveal loss-less transport properties (inverse decay length β<0.001Å) with high conductance (0.1 G0) at low voltages (50 meV) over long distances (z>10 nm). The transport behavior is sensitive to the coupling between ribbon and electrodes, an effect that is rationalized using tight-binding and density functional theory simulations. From extensive modelling we infer that the length-independent transport is a manifestation of band transport through topological valence states, which originate from the zigzag segments on the GNR edges.

M. Alkorta, R. Cizek, N. Néel, T. Frederiksen, and J. Kröger
Impact of single-melamine tautomerization on the excitation of molecular vibrations in inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy
Nano Lett., in press (2024) [ PDF ] [DOI]

Vibrational quanta of melamine and its tautomer are analyzed at the single-molecule level on Cu(100) with inelastic electron tunneling spectroscopy. The on-surface tautomerization gives rise to markedly different low-energy vibrational spectra of the isomers, as evidenced by a shift in mode energies and a variation in inelastic cross sections. Spatially resolved spectroscopy reveals the maximum signal strength on an orbital nodal plane, excluding resonant inelastic tunneling as the mechanism underlying the quantum excitations. Decreasing the probe–molecule separation down to the formation of a chemical bond between the melamine amino group and the Cu apex atom of the tip leads to a quenched vibrational spectrum with different excitation energies. Density functional and electron transport calculations reproduce the experimental findings and show that the shift in the quantum energies applies to internal molecular bending modes. The simulations moreover suggest that the bond formation represents an efficient manner of tautomerizing the molecule.

S. Mishra, M. Vilas-Varela, L.-A. Lieske, R. Ortiz, S. Fatayer, I. Rončević, F. Albrecht, T. Frederiksen, D. Peña, and L. Gross
Bistability between π-diradical open-shell and closed-shell states in indeno[1,2-a]fluorene
Nat. Chem. 16, 755-761 (2024) [ PDF ] [DOI] [arXiv:2303.04483] [HTML5]

Indenofluorenes are non-benzenoid conjugated hydrocarbons that have received great interest owing to their unusual electronic structure and potential applications in non-linear optics and photovoltaics. Here, we report the generation of unsubstituted indeno[1,2-a]fluorene, the final and yet unreported parent indenofluorene regioisomer, on various surfaces by cleavage of two C-H bonds in 7,12-dihydro indeno[1,2-a]fluorene through voltage pulses applied by the tip of a combined scanning tunneling microscope and atomic force microscope. On bilayer NaCl on Au(111), indeno[1,2-a]fluorene is in the neutral charge state, while it exhibits charge bistability between neutral and anionic states on the lower work function surfaces of bilayer NaCl on Ag(111) and Cu(111). In the neutral state, indeno[1,2-a]fluorene exhibits either of two ground states: an open-shell π-diradical state, predicted to be a triplet by density functional and multireference many-body perturbation theory calculations, or a closed-shell state with a para-quinodimethane moiety in the as-indacene core. Switching between open- and closed-shell states of a single molecule is observed by changing its adsorption site on NaCl.