Probing the conductance superposition law in single-molecule circuits with parallel paths

Nat Nanotechnol. 2012 Oct;7(10):663-7. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2012.147. Epub 2012 Sep 2.


According to Kirchhoff's circuit laws, the net conductance of two parallel components in an electronic circuit is the sum of the individual conductances. However, when the circuit dimensions are comparable to the electronic phase coherence length, quantum interference effects play a critical role, as exemplified by the Aharonov-Bohm effect in metal rings. At the molecular scale, interference effects dramatically reduce the electron transfer rate through a meta-connected benzene ring when compared with a para-connected benzene ring. For longer conjugated and cross-conjugated molecules, destructive interference effects have been observed in the tunnelling conductance through molecular junctions. Here, we investigate the conductance superposition law for parallel components in single-molecule circuits, particularly the role of interference. We synthesize a series of molecular systems that contain either one backbone or two backbones in parallel, bonded together cofacially by a common linker on each end. Single-molecule conductance measurements and transport calculations based on density functional theory show that the conductance of a double-backbone molecular junction can be more than twice that of a single-backbone junction, providing clear evidence for constructive interference.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.