Single-Molecule Transistor Using Quantum Interference


A new technical paper titled “Quantum interference enhances the performance of single-molecule transistors” was published by researchers at Queen Mary University of London, University of Oxford, Lancaster University, and University of Waterloo.

“Quantum effects in nanoscale electronic devices promise to lead to new types of functionality not achievable using classical electronic components. However, quantum behaviour also presents an unresolved challenge facing electronics at the few-nanometre scale: resistive channels start leaking owing to quantum tunnelling. This affects the performance of nanoscale transistors, with direct source–drain tunnelling degrading switching ratios and subthreshold swings, and ultimately limiting operating frequency due to increased static power dissipation. The usual strategy to mitigate quantum effects has been to increase device complexity, but theory shows that if quantum effects can be exploited in molecular-scale electronics, this could provide a route to lower energy consumption and boost device performance. Here we demonstrate these effects experimentally, showing how the performance of molecular transistors is improved when the resistive channel contains two destructively interfering waves. We use a zinc-porphyrin coupled to graphene electrodes in a three-terminal transistor to demonstrate a >104 conductance-switching ratio, a subthreshold swing at the thermionic limit, a >7 kHz operating frequency and stability over >105 cycles. We fully map the anti-resonance interference features in conductance, reproduce the behaviour by density functional theory calculations and trace back the high performance to the coupling between molecular orbitals and graphene edge states. These results demonstrate how the quantum nature of electron transmission at the nanoscale can enhance, rather than degrade, device performance, and highlight directions for future development of miniaturized electronics.”

Find the technical paper here. Published March 2024. Find the news summary here.

Chen, Z., Grace, I.M., Woltering, S.L. et al. Quantum interference enhances the performance of single-molecule transistors. Nat. Nanotechnol. (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-024-01633-1

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