Charge-memory polaron effect in molecular junctions
D. A. Ryndyk, P. D'Amico, G. Cuniberti, and K. Richter
Physical Review B 78, 085409 (2008)
Selected for the August 25, 2008 issue of the
Virtual Journal of Nanoscale Science & Technology.
The charge-memory effect, bistability and switching between charged and neutral states of a molecular junction, as observed in recent STM experiments, is considered within a minimal polaron model. We show that in the case of strong electron-vibron interaction the rate of spontaneous quantum switching between charged and neutral states is exponentially suppressed at zero bias voltage but can be tuned through a wide range of finite switching timescales upon changing the bias. We further find that, while junctions with symmetric voltage drop give rise to random switching at finite bias, asymmetric junctions exhibit hysteretic behavior enabling controlled switching. Lifetimes and charge-voltage curves are calculated by the master equation method for weak coupling to the leads and at stronger coupling by the equation-of-motion method for nonequilibrium Green functions.