Single-molecule designs for electric switches and rectifiers.
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A design for molecular rectifiers is proposed. Current rectification is based on the spatial asymmetry of a molecule and requires only one resonant conducting molecular orbital. Rectification is caused by asymmetric coupling of the orbital to the electrodes, which results in asymmetric movement of the two Fermi levels with respect to the orbital under external bias. Results from numerical studies of the family of suggested molecular rectifiers, HS-(CH(2))(n)-C(6)H(4)(CH(2))(m)SH, are presented. Current rectification ratios in excess of 100 are achievable for n = 2 and m > 6. A class of bistable stator-rotor molecules is proposed. The stationary part connects the two electrodes and facilitates electron transport between them. The rotary part, which has a large dipole moment, is attached to an atom of the stator via a single sigma bond. Electrostatic bonds formed between the oxygen atom of the rotor and hydrogen atoms of the stator make the symmetric orientation of the dipole unstable. The rotor has two potential minima with equal energy for rotation about the sigma bond. The dipole can be flipped between the two states by an external electric field. Both rotor-orientation states have asymmetric current-voltage characteristics that are the reverse of each other, so they are distinguishable electrically. Theoretical results on conformation, energy barriers, retention times, switching voltages, and current-voltage characteristics are presented for a particular stator-rotor molecule. Such molecules could be the base for single-molecule switches, reversible diodes, and other molecular electronic devices.