Silicon-based molecular switch junctions
D. Nozaki and G. Cuniberti
Nano Research (with journal cover) 2, 648 (2009).
In contrast to the static operations of conventional semiconductor devices, the dynamic conformational freedom in molecular devices opens up the possibility of using molecules as new types of devices such as a molecular conformational switch or for molecular data storage. Bistable molecules, with e.g. two stable cis and trans isomeric configurations, could provide, once clamped between two electrodes, a switching phenomenon in the nonequilibrium current response. Here, we model molecular switch junctions formed at silicon contacts and demonstrate the potential of tunable molecular switches in electrode/molecule/electrode configurations. Using the non equilibrium Green function approach implemented with the density-functional-based tight-binding theory, a series of properties such as electron transmissions, I-V characteristics in the different isomer-conformations, and potential energy surfaces as a function of the reaction coordinates along the trans to cis transition were calculated. Furthermore, in order to investigate stability of molecular switches in ambient conditions, molecular dynamics (MD) simulations at room temperature were performed and time- dependent fluctuations of the conductance along the MD pathways were calculated. Our numerical results show that the transmission spectra of the cis isomers are more conductive than trans counterparts inside the bias window for all two model molecules. The current-voltage characteristics consequently show the same trends. Additionally, the calculations of time-dependent transmission fluctuations along the MD pathways have shown that the transmission in cis isomers is always significantly larger than that of trans counterparts showing that molecular switches can be expected to work as robust molecular switching components.