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19 december 2018

Approved FOM programme

Number 141.
Title Quantum interference effects in single molecules (QIM)
Executive organisational unit BUW
Programme management Prof.dr.ir. H.S.J. van der Zant
Duration 2013-2018
Cost estimate M€ 1.4

The main objective of this FOM programme is the investigation of quantum interference effects in molecular charge transport, thereby paving the way for new types of single molecule devices that exploit interference for novel functionality. The specific aims of this programme are:

  1. To experimentally establish the fundamental nature and strength of quantum interference effects in single-molecule charge transport.
  2. To investigate the sensitivity of interference to decoherence by electron-vibration interac­tion in these floppy systems.
  3. To investigate the effects of quantum interference on physical properties of molecules.
  4. To control these interferences either by chemical modifications to the molecule or by manipu­lating the interference effects in situ.

Background, relevance and implementation
Exploiting the rich design space of organic molecules for applications in future electronic devices is one of the main challenges in nanotechnology. During the last few years it has been demonstrated that it is possible to attach metallic contacts to individual organic molecules. This progress has triggered studies of transport through individual molecules, and f rom these measurements we now largely understand how vibrational modes, contact configurations, the length, and the conjugation of the molecule influence the molecule resistance. These properties, however, can to a large extent be explained by taking the molecule as a semiconducting building block; the specific functionality of a molecule is usually not taken advantage of. The next step and challenge in the field of molecular electronics is to exploit molecule-specific properties to obtain novel functionality. One feature of special interest is quantum interference that has very recently attracted a lot of theoretical attention and for which the first experimental studies now start to appear in the literature.
Researchers from Delft and Leiden form a team in which complementary expertise and experimental infrastructures are combined to achieve major steps forward in the understanding and control of quantum interference effects on the single-molecule level. Each member of the team has a strong track record, either in state-of-the-art molecular conductance measurements, time-resolved spectroscopic studies of charge transfer or non-equilibrium Green's function theory. Five PhD students (three in Delft and two in Leiden) and one postdoc (Delft) will be paid from the programme and work in close collaboration. By combining the variety of techniques available in the five groups, quantum interference effects in organic molecules will be studied in-depth, with independent data reproduction.

The final evaluation will be based on the self-evaluation report initiated by the programme leader and is foreseen for 2019.

Please find a research highlight that was achieved in 2013 within this FOM programme here.