Electron tunneling through molecular media: A density functional study of Au/Dithiol/Au systems

Qiang Sun, Annabella Selloni, Giacinto Scoles

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19 Scopus citations


We report a density functional theory study of the electronic properties of n-alkanedithiols (CnS2, with n=4, 8 and 12) sandwiched between two Au(111) infinite slab electrodes. We investigate the influence of the distance between the two electrodes and of the molecular chain length, tilt angle, and coverage on the local density of states (LDOS) at the Fermi energy (Ef). We find that the (small) value of the LDOS at Ef near the center of the molecular wires - a quantity that is related to the tunneling current - is mainly determined by the length n of the alkane chains: it originates from the tails of the highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) and the lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) which are broadened by the interaction with the electrodes, and decays exponentially with the length of the molecular wire. This opens a nonresonance tunneling channel for charge transport at small bias voltages. While the length of the hydrocarbon chain appears to be the determining factor, the tilt angle of the molecular wires with respect to the electrode surfaces, and therefore the distance between these, has a small influence on the LDOS at the center of the molecule, while the effect of coverage can be ignored. The picture which emerges from these calculations is totally consistent with a through-bond tunneling mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1906-1910
Number of pages5
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 5 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


  • Alkanedithiol monolayers
  • Density functional calculations
  • Self-assembly
  • Surface chemistry
  • Through-bond interactions


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