Half spheres for molecular circuits

February 16, 2015, Sissa Medialab
Credits: SISSA/CNR IOM

Corannulene is a carbon molecule with a unique shape (similar to the better known fullerene) and promising properties. A team of scientists from SISSA and the University of Zurich carried out computer simulations of the molecule's properties and discovered that it might help overcome the difficulties building molecular circuits (i.e., of the size of molecules). The study has just been published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

Imagine taking a fullerene (C60) and cutting it in half like a melon. What you get is a corannulene (C20H10), a molecule that, according to a just-published study conducted with SISSA's collaboration, could be an important component of future "molecular circuits," that is, circuits miniaturized to the size of molecules, to be used for various kinds of electronic devices (transistors, diodes, etc.).

Fullerene is a very popular molecule: also called buckybowl, it is formed of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal network shaped like a hollow sphere. It is an intensely studied material that displays interesting properties in different fields. Even though c60 is known to contain "empty states" (of a very special nature known as buckybowl superatom states, BSS) capable of accepting electrons, these states are found at very high energies, a feature that makes them difficult to exploit in electronic devices.

The electrons in electronic circuits have to be able to travel easily. "In fullerene the energy levels of the BSS type capable of accommodating 'travelling electrons' are difficult to achieve energetically," explains Layla Martin-Samos, researcher at Democritos IOM-CNR and SISSA and among the authors of the study published in Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. "Corannullene, on the other hand, seems to be much better suited to the purpose, as demonstrated by our calculations."

Martin-Samos and colleagues had already studied the optical properties of this molecule. "This time instead we focused on its electronic properties with special emphasis on the study of BSS." The observations - theoretical and based on computer simulations – of Martin-Samos and colleagues show that BSS in corannulene are found at much lower energy levels compared to fullerene and can therefore be more easily accessed. "This makes the material an excellent prospective candidate for the construction of electronic circuits" continues Martin-Samos. "In fact if we put corannulene molecules next to one another in a row, the electrons will flow easily from one to the next, forming a sort of tunnel which makes up the circuit."

Credits: SISSA/CNR IOM
"Our work not only uncovered the potential of this molecule, but it also served as a guide for the subsequent experimental analysis, by indicating where and what to look at and reducing the time and cost of the experiments. The investigators have recently finished collecting the experimental data and are now going to start their analysis to verify experimentally what we observed in our simulation. We're keeping our fingers crossed: who knows, in a few months' time we might be celebrating."

Explore further: Synthesis and characterization of encapsulated single HF molecule

More information: "Buckybowl superatom states: a unique route for electron transport?" L. Zoppi, L. Martin-Samos and K. K. Baldridge, Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 2015,17, 6114-6121, DOI: 10.1039/C4CP05776G

Related Stories

Water dimer captured inside a fullerene-C70

March 14, 2016

(Phys.org)—Researchers from Kyoto University have, for the first time, isolated a water dimer. Using a technique known as molecular surgery, they encapsulated the dimer within a fullerene-C70 molecule. Their work appears ...

Molecular nanoribbons as electronic highways

October 1, 2015

Physicists at Umeå University have, together with researchers at UC Berkeley, USA, developed a method to synthesise a unique and novel type of material which resembles a graphene nanoribbon but in molecular form. This material ...

World's smallest diode developed

April 4, 2016

The world's smallest diode, the size of a single molecule, has been developed collaboratively by U.S. and Israeli researchers from the University of Georgia and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

Recommended for you

Meteorite source in asteroid belt not a single debris field

February 17, 2019

A new study published online in Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that our most common meteorites, those known as L chondrites, come from at least two different debris fields in the asteroid belt. The belt contains ...

Diagnosing 'art acne' in Georgia O'Keeffe's paintings

February 17, 2019

Even Georgia O'Keeffe noticed the pin-sized blisters bubbling on the surface of her paintings. For decades, conservationists and scholars assumed these tiny protrusions were grains of sand, kicked up from the New Mexico desert ...

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.