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Fundamentals of Molecular Electronic Assemblies

Final Report Summary - FUNMOLS (Fundamentals of Molecular Electronic Assemblies)

The FUNMOLS network has made major breakthroughs in the field of molecular electronics. The combined expertise in synthetic chemistry, nanoscale physics and device engineering, surface electrochemistry and high-level electronic structure calculations has led to a highly-integrated approach to studying electron transport through single molecules. Our research programme has represented a major step towards the realisation of future scalable molecular electronics technologies and processes. The interdisciplinary and intersectoral nature of the research has meant that the young researchers have acquired transferable skills, which are widely sought after by research organisations and industry. A clearly structured training and mobility programme has been strongly emphasised in our Network to ensure that the early stage researchers (ESRs) employed on the project have gained a broad perspective and become experts in the field of molecular electronics.

The following points demonstrate the success of the project. All ESRs have attended many seminars by visiting speakers at their host institutions, local courses, FUNMOLS Workshops, Schools and Tutorial Courses, and all have given several oral and poster presentations at these meetings. Feedback on their presentation skills has been provided by the PIs to the ESRs. Board Meetings were convened at each of the Annual Meetings. An extensive programme of training events took place during the 4-years of the ITN. Our Annual Meeting 1 and School (organized by USD) was combined with the European Conference in Molecular Electronics, Copenhagen, (ECME2009) September 2011. The consortium (UBAS in particular) organized the International Conference in Molecular Electronics, Emmetten, Switzerland, 5-9 January 2010. Our Annual Meeting 2, Mid-term Review and School (Malvern, UK, September 2010) was a supradisciplinary inter-ITN event in combination with the theory ITN NanoCTM. This event was highly successful both scientifically and as an ideal opportunity for PIs and ESRs to build new social and scientific networks. Our Annual Meeting 3 and School (organized by UAM in September 2011) was held in Barcelona alongside the European Conference on Molecular Electronics (ECME2011) to which FUNMOLS partners made many contributions. ECME is the flagship international conference in the research area of FUNMOLS, so this was an exciting opportunity for PIs and ESRs to showcase our results at a conference which attracted >1000 delegates, to network and to gain input into our projects from world leaders in science, civil society and politics. All the ESRs have learnt the essential aspects of project organisation, team integration, time management and presentation skills, in preparation for their research careers. High quality experts from outside the Network have given presentations at our FUNMOLS events. All the ESRs wrote 6-monthly reports which have been read by the supervisor who has provided feedback to the ESR. These reports have formed the basis of manuscripts submitted for publication, and have been the basis of PhD thesis chapters. Many of the ESRs have now obtained their PhD qualifications and have moved on to postdoctoral positions in academia, or to industrial positions.

All the PIs and most of the ESRs have given oral presentations at national and international conferences outside the Network events.

All ESRs have undertaken secondments to partner laboratories to learn new core skills, to extend their social networks and cultural diversity and to exchange best practice.

Many of our scientists-in-charge have been actively involved in outreach actions like public lectures in local schools and at University open days. Furthermore, our scientists-in-charge and fellows have contributed to science festivals, e.g. the Durham Science Festival and the Madrid Science Fair, which are very popular events aimed at bringing science to life – especially for young people. During these activities we have explained, in non-technical language, our involvement in the FUNMOLS network and how the project could solve technological problems and impact society in the future.

Many new close pan-European collaborations have been initiated during the course of the Network with outside partners. Increasingly the ESRs took the lead in this regard. Some new collaborations have resulted in new academic partners (Professor M. Mayor, Univ. Basel; Professor J. Repp, Univ. Regensburg; Professor H. van der Zant, Univ. Delft) and associate academic (Professor J. Ferrer, Univ. Oviedo) and associate private sector partners (Siemens AG, Rolic Technologies Ltd, Centre for Process Innovation, NSG Group, NanoWorld Services, NXP Semiconductors, PolyIC GmbH and Brook Lapping Productions Ltd.) joining the new ITN proposal “MOLESCO” (Molecular Scale Electronics; Grant agreement no.: 606728; coordinator M. R. Bryce).

Regular exchanges of best practice have taken place between partners during routine conference calls, emails and face-to-face meetings.

Clear evidence of the strong cohesion, and high level of expertise within the consortium is provided by the extensive number of publications reporting our work undertaken within the framework of FUNMOLS. To date there have been 80 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 32 of these are joint between two or more FUNMOLS partners, and many others involve collaboration with partners outside the Network. These include articles in very high profile international journals such as J. Am. Chem. Soc., Nano Letters, Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., Adv. Mater., Phys. Rev. Lett., ACS Nano, Chem. Eur. J. and Chem. Soc. Rev.

Figure: Images from FUNMOLS research.

Left: First scan cyclic voltammograms of Au(111) electrodes modified with a redox-active moleculeHS-6V6H electrodes (B. Liu, et. al. ACS Nano, 2011, 5, 5662–5672; DOI: 10.1021/nn201307g).

Centre: Conductance and STM imaging data of a new molecular wire on Au(111) (E. Leary, et. al. Nano Letters, 2011, 11, 2236-2241; DOI: 10.1021/nl200294s).

Right: Single-molecule conductance measurements on conjugated diamines (M. T. Gonzalez et. al., J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2013, 135, 5420-5426; DOI: 10.1021/ja312392q).