Molecular Electronics Theory - Solomon Group

Understanding chemical trends in molecular electron transport

Traditionally, chemistry has involved the study of molecules in solution, the gas phase or as solid crystals. Today, nanofabrication techniques have made it possible to bind molecules in a huge array of different environments and we need to understand how different chemical functionalities influence properties like conductivity.

We are particularly interested in quantum interference effects in molecular electron transport and how simple changes in conjugation can result in dramatically different transport properties.

Local heating, dissipation and thermoelectric response of molecules in conducting junctions

As current passes through a molecule, the tunneling electrons can gain or lose energy through their interactions with the vibrational degrees of freedom. This results in an inelastic electron tunneling spectrum, a type of vibrational spectroscopy, but can also induce changes in the molecule. We are interested in how to modulate these excitation and dissipation processes with chemical modifications to the system.

Mapping transport pathways in complex systems

Structure-function relationships play a great role in the development of chemical intuition and we use local transport decomposition methods to map the transport pathways in complex systems. As molecules fluctuate, both due to thermal motion or an applied force, the conduction pathways can also fluctuate and we study which parts of a molecule actually carry the current and which parts merely control the environment.