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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jun 21;102(25):8832-7. Epub 2005 Jun 14.

Tunneling rates in electron transport through double-barrier molecular junctions in a scanning tunneling microscope.

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Department of Physics & Astronomy, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697-4575, USA.


The scanning tunneling microscope enables atomic-scale measurements of electron transport through individual molecules. Copper phthalocyanine and magnesium porphine molecules adsorbed on a thin oxide film grown on the NiAl(110) surface were probed. The single-molecule junctions contained two tunneling barriers, vacuum gap, and oxide film. Differential conductance spectroscopy shows that electron transport occurs via vibronic states of the molecules. The intensity of spectral peaks corresponding to the individual vibronic states depends on the relative electron tunneling rates through the two barriers of the junction, as found by varying the vacuum gap tunneling rate by changing the height of the scanning tunneling microscope tip above the molecule. A simple, sequential tunneling model explains the observed trends.

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