Molecular electronics is expected to become a key technology in the 21st century with extensive current research. Owing to its future importance, molecular electronics is included in one of the seven FP6 priority areas, viz Nanotechnologies and Nanoscience . Our project will contribute to both the theoretical understanding of functional molecular electronic devices, and to their development and application. Target systems are inorganic transition metal complexes attached to suitable conducting leads. These s ystems exhibit molecular conductivity features that mimick electronic components such as diodes or transistors. However, most work published so far has been at low temperatures in vacuum or air. We intend to expand the area to ambient temperatures using in situ STM and scanning tunnelling spectroscopy (STS) in electrochemical environments. The in situ STM electrode configuration consisting of a reference, a counter and a working electrode, resembles closely a molecular transistor with source, drain and gate contacts. Together with cooperation partners who will synthesize identified classes of inorganic complexes, we will develop molecular designs that are most suitable for our experimental requirements. Electrochemical experiments using ultrapure, atomically planar single-crystal metal electrodes will help to test the novel designs, e. g. concerning stability, prior to in situ STM experiments. In parallel, condensed matter charge transfer theory and detailed electronic structure calculations of the molecular tunneling junction will correlate molecular conductivity features to its properties. A profound understanding of this correlation is a pre-requisite to tailoring molecular tunneling properties, a key issue in present and forthcoming molecular electronics r esearch.
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