Stretching Molecules Yields New Understanding of Electricity

Thursday - 6/17/2010, 1:20pm EDT

Cornell University researchers recently stretched individual molecules and watched electrons flow through them, proving that single-molecule devices can be used as powerful new tools for nanoscale science experiments. The work resulted in the first precision tests of a phenomenon known as the under screened Kondo effect. It shows that single-molecule devices can be very useful as scientific tools to study a phenomenon that has never before been accessible.

The research was supported by the National Science Foundation's Division of Materials Research and presents a powerful new tool for nanoscale science experiments.

Using a cobalt-based complex cooled to extremely low temperatures, Ralph, Parks and an international team of researchers watched electrons move through single molecules and accomplished a feat that until now escaped chemists and physicists. They were able to study the resistance of the flow of electricity within a system's electric field as the temperature approached absolute zero.