Electromechanics at the nanoscale

By studying metal-molecule orbitals coupling, in which a flow of electrons is modulated by the overlapping level of the molecular ‘π-orbitals’ and the orbitals of the electrodes binding to it, they found a new way to control the electrical conductance in a single-molecule junction. “We mechanically modulated the angle of a molecule bridged between two metal electrodes,” explains Ismael. “Changing its angle from highly-tilted to nearly perpendicular to the electrodes changes the conductance by an order of magnitude.”

Single-molecule electromechanical devices would open up huge possibilities in being able to create things at an ever-smaller scale. “We can move things just angstroms of distance with really precise control,” says Ismael. “Being able to reversibly control the current flow with a mechanical perturbation in a single-molecule contact will surely bring new fundamental knowledge on how such contacts operate, and may have an important impact on technological advances in the future.”