Molecular Wires


James M. Tour Departments of Chemistry, Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Rice University

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Electrical wiring is used all around us in today's world. Metallic wiring 1 cm in diameter facilitates the flow of electrons that power our household lighting, radios, televisions, and other appliances such as computers. Within those appliances and computers, wires 1 mm wide on printed circuit boards connect electronic devices such as resistors, rheostats, and logic chips. Inside those logic chips, wires tenths of a micrometer wide connect solid-state transistors, carved out of silicon, and allow them to act in concert with thousands of similar transistors to carry out computations. This last size reduction nearly reaches what is thought to be the limit of present semiconductor manufacturing technology. To enable further miniaturization, recent research has produced molecular-scale wires, ranging in length from 1 to 100 nm. In this chapter, we will review the state of the art in the synthesis and characterization of molecular wires and examine theoretical work concerning how they are thought to conduct electricity.