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Theme 2 colloquium: 'Molecular Scale Electronics: From Molecular Switches to Emulating Synaptic Behavior' (Lecture)

Wednesday 19 January 2022Add to my calendar
from 11:30
Professor Christian A. Nijhuis (University of Twente)

Christian NijhuisMolecular electronic devices are highly complementary to traditional electronic devices and may lead, in principle, to novel electronic functionalities that are very complicated to realize otherwise[1,2]. It has been notoriously difficult, however, to reversibly address molecular switches in solid-state tunnel junctions, but such switches are important to create molecular devices where multiple electronic functions are defined at the molecular length-scales or to develop dynamical systems needed for upcoming technologies, such as, neuromorphic computing.

After a brief introduction to the current status of molecular electronics, I will discuss our recent efforts to develop multi-functional molecular devices[3,4]. Recently, we developed a new type of an electrically driven molecular switch that can toggle between two different functionalities, that of a diode and memory.[5] This dual-functional switch resembles one diode–one resistor (1D–1R) resistive random access memory (RRAM) but defined within a single molecular layer. This molecular approach is very simple in design, greatly reduces the footprint of devices and the operating voltage (to just <1.0V). By coupling fast electron transport to slow proton addition steps (and associated dynamic covalent bond formation), we are able to create dynamic molecular switches that remember their past[6]. Here, the switching probabilities depend on the operation speed and history of the switches. These switches mimic synaptic plasticity and Pavlovian learning. These examples show that electric-field-driven molecular switches pave the way to complex molecular devices where multiple electronic functions are programmed within a single molecular layer.


1)    Chem. Rev. 2016116, 4318-4440.
2)    Nat. Rev. Phys. 20191, 381-396.
3)    Thompson, D.; Barco, E. d.; Nijhuis, C. A. Appl. Phys. Lett. 2020117, 030502.
4)    Nat. Nanotechnol. 201712, 797–803.
5)    Han, Y.; Nickle, C.; Zhang, Z.; Hsstier, P. A. G.; Duffin, T. J.; Qi, D.; Wang, Z.; del Barco, E.; Thompson D.; Nijhuis, C. A. Nat. Mater. 202019, 843-848.
6)    Wang, Y.; Zhang, Q.; Nickle, C.; Venkatakrishnarao, D.; Zhang, Z.; Leoncini A.; Qi, D.-C.; Han, Y.; del Barco, E.; Thompson, D.; Nijhuis, C. A. unpublished results.

dr. Peter Korevaar, dr. Evan Spruijt, dr. Wim Velema

For zoom link see invitation email sent on January 10, 2022