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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/I010238/1
Title: Phonon gated electronics: Changing the electrical transport in molecular devices with vibrations generated via magnetic power absorption
Principal Investigator: Cespedes, Professor O
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Department: Physics and Astronomy
Organisation: University of Leeds
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 27 April 2011 Ends: 26 April 2013 Value (£): 111,308
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Materials Characterisation
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
02 Sep 2010 Physical Sciences - Materials Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The size and speed of electronic appliances have improved exponentially in the last few decades thanks to the advances in materials science and fabrication processes. Nonetheless, these ever smaller and faster components are pushing at the fundamental boundaries of quantum mechanics, which will soon result in excessive heating, defective elements and/or impaired processing. Furthermore, performance limitations are not the only problem for conventional electronics. There is an increasing concern about the environmental and health repercussions for a society that depends on electronics in almost every aspect of our life, with an ever-expanding product range and market base. Many of the materials used in electronic devices are harmful, and the wasteful methods employed for their fabrication, together with the unstoppable updating of electronic gadgets every few years mean that large amounts of hazardous waste is produced.Molecular electronics has the advantages over conventional semiconducting devices of small intrinsic size and potentially biodegradable components. However, the research has so far focused in emulating the operation of standard devices and p-n junctions, rather than developing new functionalities based on the unique properties of molecular structures. Added to metal-molecular contact problems, and the chemical and structural degradation that organic structures undergo during operation, molecular devices still lag the efficiency and durability of conventional structures. Therefore, the electronics industry cannot profit from adopting a new generation of hybrid electronics. This project aims to address these drawbacks by using the intrinsic properties of molecules and molecular dynamics, instead of mimicking semiconductor devices.To bring molecular electronics to fruition as an independent field with intrinsic features, a qualitative conceptual step in hybrid electronics is required. Molecular dynamics, where the atoms vibrate at a characteristic frequency due to the thermal energy, are usually considered a nuisance for molecular devices aiming to emulate semiconducting structures. However, the rich range of vibrational properties in molecules, from low-frequency breathing modes to ultrafast hydrogen bond vibrations, is an attractive possibility to develop new paradigms if we could generate or even artificially control the vibrations at chosen chemical bonds without changing the macroscopic temperature. For this purpose, we can use the power dissipated by magnetic materials during exposure to alternating magnetic fields to generate or quench normal modes in molecules functionalized to, or in contact with the magnet. This power is dependent on an external DC magnetic field, the frequency of the AC magnetic field and the magnetic anisotropy, parameters which can be controlled by external fields or modifying the material composition or shape. This will allow us to study the interaction between electronic transport and molecular dynamics by having control over both voltage andvibrational spectrum.From the point of view of applications to electronic devices, rather than just changing the temperature of the system, the method I put forward will not be hampered by the long relaxation times associated with structural changes in the molecules and the macroscopic cooling of the electrodes. This is because the phonons will be injected directly to the molecules through a third insulating magnetic terminal not in contact with the electrodes. As compared with simply irradiating the molecules with microwave fields, the technique will also allow us to overcome the low microwave absorption of organic molecules, and extend the operation to arbitrary molecular systems, where we will generate vibrational modes in the optical range with exposure to microwave fields. We can then fabricate transistors operating at the molecular scale and with driving magnetic fields at frequencies of several GHz.
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