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J Chem Phys. 2014 Jul 7;141(1):014707. doi: 10.1063/1.4886378.

Transition voltages of vacuum-spaced and molecular junctions with Ag and Pt electrodes.

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Key Laboratory for the Physics and Chemistry of Nanodevices, Department of Electronics, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China.
School of Physics, AMBER and CRANN Institute, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.


The transition voltage of vacuum-spaced and molecular junctions constructed with Ag and Pt electrodes is investigated by non-equilibrium Green's function formalism combined with density functional theory. Our calculations show that, similarly to the case of Au-vacuum-Au previously studied, the transition voltages of Ag and Pt metal-vacuum-metal junctions with atomic protrusions on the electrode surface are determined by the local density of states of the p-type atomic orbitals of the protrusion. Since the energy position of the Pt 6p atomic orbitals is higher than that of the 5p/6p of Ag and Au, the transition voltage of Pt-vacuum-Pt junctions is larger than that of both Ag-vacuum-Ag and Au-vacuum-Au junctions. When one moves to analyzing asymmetric molecular junctions constructed with biphenyl thiol as central molecule, then the transition voltage is found to depend on the specific bonding site for the sulfur atom in the thiol group. In particular agreement with experiments, where the largest transition voltage is found for Ag and the smallest for Pt, is obtained when one assumes S binding at the hollow-bridge site on the Ag/Au(111) surface and at the adatom site on the Pt(111) one. This demonstrates the critical role played by the linker-electrode binding geometry in determining the transition voltage of devices made of conjugated thiol molecules.

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