Electron Tunneling Through Organic Molecules in Frozen Glasses

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Science  07 Jan 2005:
Vol. 307, Issue 5706, pp. 99-102
DOI: 10.1126/science.1103818

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Reaction rates extracted from measurements of donor luminescence quenching by randomly dispersed electron acceptors reveal an exponential decay constant of 1.23 per angstrom for electron tunneling through a frozen toluene glass (with a barrier to tunneling of 1.4 electron volts). The decay constant is 1.62 per angstrom (the barrier, 2.6 electron volts) in a frozen 2-methyl-tetrahydrofuran glass. Comparison to decay constants for tunneling across covalently linked xylyl (0.76 per angstrom) and alkyl (1.0 per angstrom) bridges leads to the conclusion that tunneling between solvent molecules separated by ∼2 angstroms (van der Waals contact) is 20 to 50 times slower than tunneling through a comparable length of a covalently bonded bridge. Our results provide experimental confirmation that covalently bonded pathways can facilitate electron flow through folded polypeptide structures.

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