PITTSBURGH-Researchers based at the University of Pittsburgh have created the best method so far of assembling wire-like structures only a single molecule wide, a significant step in science's increasing attempts to reduce the circuitry size of electronic devices to the single molecule scale and provide smaller, faster, and more energy efficient electronics. The findings were published online Sept. 26 in the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS).
The project presents a template for assembling molecules over troughs that are only as wide as a single atom of copper, but extend with faultless uniformity over distances corresponding to several hundred copper atoms. These ultra-thin wires are one-dimensional, which may enable them to conduct electricity with minimal loss and thus improve the performance of an electronic device, said project leader Hrvoje Petek, a professor of physics and chemistry in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences and codirector of Pitt's Petersen Institute for NanoScience and Engineering (PINSE).
The published research pertains to organic-or carbon-based-soccer ball-shaped carbon molecules known as fullerenes, but the method can serve as a template for creating the molecule-scale wires from a broad range of organic molecules, Petek said. The merits of these wire-like structures can only be fully realized with organic molecules. Materials used in contemporary electronics-such as silicon-are inorganic and cannot be miniaturized to be truly one-dimensional, Petek said.
The project was conceived by Junseok Lee of the University of Virginia's chemistry department and executed by Min Feng, a research associate in Pitt's physics and astronomy department. Research associate Jin Zhao of Pitt's physics and astronomy department served as the project's theoretician. The template was developed with the chemistry group of Pitt emeritus professor John T. Yates Jr., now of the chemistry department at the University of Virginia and an advisor to PINSE.
The research was sponsored by grants from the Keck Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, and the U.S. Department of Energy.
The paper is on the JACS Web site at pubs.acs.org/journals/jacsat/.