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J Am Chem Soc. 2005 May 25;127(20):7647-53.

Ferrocenylundecanethiol self-assembled monolayer charging correlates with negative differential resistance measured by conducting probe atomic force microscopy.

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Department of Chemistry, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA.


Electrical and mechanical properties of metal-molecule-metal junctions formed between Au-supported self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of electroactive 11-ferrocenylundecanethiol (FcC(11)SH) and a Pt-coated atomic force microscope (AFM) tip have been measured using a conducting probe (CP) AFM in insulating alkane solution. Simultaneous and independent measurements of currents and bias-dependent adhesion forces under different applied tip biases between the conductive AFM probe and the FcC(11)SH SAMs revealed reversible peak-shaped current-voltage (I-V) characteristics and correlated maxima in the potential-dependent adhesion force. Trapped positive charges in the molecular junction correlate with high conduction in a feature showing negative differential resistance. Similar measurements on an electropassive 1-octanethiol SAM did not show any peaks in either adhesion force or I-V curves. A mechanism involving two-step resonant hole transfer through the occupied molecular orbitals (MOs) of ferrocene end groups via sequential oxidation and subsequent reduction, where a hole is trapped by the phonon relaxation, is proposed to explain the observed current-force correlation. These results suggest a new approach to probe charge-transfer involving electroactive groups on the nanoscale by measuring the adhesion forces as a function of applied bias in an electrolyte-free environment.


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