Coulomb Staircase at Room Temperature in a Self-Assembled Molecular Nanostructure

Science  31 May 1996:
Vol. 272, Issue 5266, pp. 1323-1325
DOI: 10.1126/science.272.5266.1323


Double-ended aryl dithiols [α,α′-xylyldithiol (XYL) and 4,4′-biphenyldithiol] formed self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) on gold(111) substrates and were used to tether nanometer-sized gold clusters deposited from a cluster beam. An ultrahigh-vacuum scanning tunneling microscope was used to image these nanostructures and to measure their current-voltage characteristics as a function of the separation between the probe tip and the metal cluster. At room temperature, when the tip was positioned over a cluster bonded to the XYL SAM, the current-voltage data showed “Coulomb staircase” behavior. These data are in good agreement with semiclassical predictions for correlated single-electron tunneling and permit estimation of the electrical resistance of a single XYL molecule (∼18 ± 12 megohms).