Ionic liquid based approach for single-molecule electronics with cobalt contacts

Samantha R. Catarelli, Simon J. Higgins, Walther Schwarzacher, Bing Wei Mao, Jia Wei Yan, Richard J. Nichols*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


An electrochemical method is presented for fabricating cobalt thin films for single-molecule electrical transport measurements. These films are electroplated in an aqueous electrolyte, but the crucial stages of electrochemical reduction to remove surface oxide and adsorption of alkane(di)thiol target molecules under electrochemical control to form self-assembled monolayers which protect the oxide-free cobalt surface are carried out in an ionic liquid. This approach yields monolayers on Co that are of comparable quality to those formed on Au by standard self-assembly protocols, as assessed by electrochemical methods and surface infrared spectroscopy. Using an adapted scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) method, we have determined the single-molecule conductance of cobalt/1,8-octanedithiol/cobalt junctions by employing a monolayer on cobalt and a cobalt STM tip in an ionic liquid environment and have compared the results with those of experiments using gold electrodes as a control. These cobalt substrates could therefore have future application in organic spintronic devices such as magnetic tunnel junctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14329-14336
Number of pages8
Issue number47
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2014


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