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A Small Connection With Big Implications: Wiring Up Carbon-Based Electronics

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Artistic view of an electric connection between a carbon-based "football" molecule and a single metallic atom (gray ball).

Researchers attached a prototype carbon-based molecule to the tip of the metal needle of a scanning tunneling microscope, to measure the electrical current passing between the molecule and individual metallic atoms.

Credit: University of the Basque Country

Researchers at the University of the Basque Country, the Donostia International Physics Center, and the French National Center for Scientific Research say they have advanced the comprehension of electric contacts in future carbon-based nanoelectronics with a breakthrough development.

The researchers employed a prototype carbon-based molecule composed of 60 carbon atoms configured in a sphere that can be viewed as a graphene sheet rolled into a tiny ball. This molecule was attached to the tip of the metal needle of a scanning tunneling microscope, which was then carefully brought into the proximity of individual metallic atoms of different chemical nature, forming a strong connection. By measuring the electrical current passing through these connections, the researchers determined which of the individual metallic atoms is most efficiently injecting charges to the molecule.

Computer models demonstrated the links' electrical and mechanical traits are common for much larger carbon-based materials. The researchers say their work provides a foundation for uncovering extremely efficient contacts in the near future. The study clears a path to investigating a multitude of distinct metallic species, allowing for a systematic classification of their properties for injecting electrons into emerging carbon-based electronic devices.

From University of the Basque Country
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