We show in this work that conjugated π-electron molecular chains can, in quite specific and understood circumstances, become more conductive the longer they get, in contradiction to what would be expected intuitively. The analysis, done in the framework of the source and sink potential method, and supported by detailed transmission calculations, begins by defining "relative transmission," an inherent measure of molecular conduction. This, in turn, for conjugated hydrocarbons, is related to a simple molecular orbital expression - the ratio of secular determinants of a molecule and one where the electrode contacts are deleted - and a valence bond idea, since these secular determinants can alternatively be expressed in terms of Kekulé structures. A plausible argument is given for relating the relative transmission to the weight of the diradical resonance structures in the resonance hybrid for a molecule. Chemical intuition can then be used to tune the conductivity of molecules by "pushing" them towards more or less diradical character. The relationship between relative transmission (which can rise indefinitely) and molecular transmission is carefully analyzed - there is a sweet spot here for engineering molecular devices. These new insights enable the rationalization of a wide variety of experimental and theoretical results for π-conjugated alternant hydrocarbons, especially the striking difference between extended oligophenylenes and related quinoid chains. In this context, oligo-p-phenylene macrocycles emerge as a potential molecular switch.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry