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Using a scanning tunnelling microscope break-junction technique, we produce 4,4′-bipyridine (44BP) single-molecule junctions with Ni and Au contacts. Electrochemical control is used to prevent Ni oxidation and to modulate the conductance of the devices via nonredox gating—the first time this has been shown using non-Au contacts. Remarkably the conductance and gain of the resulting Ni-44BP-Ni electrochemical transistors is significantly higher than analogous Au-based devices. Ab-initio calculations reveal that this behavior arises because charge transport is mediated by spin-polarized Ni d-electrons, which hybridize strongly with molecular orbitals to form a “spinterface”. Our results highlight the important role of the contact material for single-molecule devices and show that it can be varied to provide control of charge and spin transport.
Bibliographical notedoi: 10.1021/nl503518q
- electrochemical gating
- density functional theory
- metal−molecule interface