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Li@C60 as a multi-state molecular switch

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Original languageEnglish
Article number2283
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Early online date23 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019


A potential end-point in the miniaturization of electronic devices lies in the field of molecular electronics, where molecules perform the function of single components. A molecular switch is defined as a molecule that displays stability in two or more states (e.g. “on” and “off” involving conductance, conformation etc.) and upon application of a controlled external perturbation, electric or otherwise, undergoes a reversible change such that the molecule is altered. Previous work has shown multi-state molecular switches with up to four and six distinct states. Using low temperature scanning tunnelling microscopy and spectroscopy, we report on a multi-state single molecule switch using the endohedral fullerene Li@C60 that displays 14 molecular states which can be statistically accessed. We suggest a switching mechanism that relies on resonant tunnelling via the superatom molecular orbitals (SAMOs) of the fullerene cage as a means of Li activation, thereby bypassing the typical vibronic excitation of the carbon cage that is known to cause molecular decomposition.

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