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The University of Southampton

Research project: Nandhakumar & Whitby: Molecular Electronics and Neural Networks

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We recently started work in the area of molecular electronics in collaboration with Dr. David Smith in the School of Physics and Astronomy at Southampton University who has developed a novel platform for measuring electrical properties of single molecules.

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Initially we are examining how both the length and binding groups of simple molecular wires (e.g. 1) affect their conductivity. The next step is to incorporate functional units in the wires to allow switching (e.g. by light, addition of metal ions, pH), rectification, or light emission. The eventual aim is to develop systems where we can make three point electrical contact to a single molecule thus paving the way towards molecular electronic circuits.

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In related work we are involved the EPSRC funded CHELL[2] network of 10 U.K. universities looking at ordering and complexity in chemical systems with the eventual aim of designing chemical cells with many of the characteristics of living cells. Our part of the project, in collaboration with Nottingham, Leeds, Glasgow and Edinburgh universities, aims to use directed growth of patterns of conducting polymers, carbon nanotubes, and functionalized nanoparticles, to produce a complex conducting grid - a Neural Network.[2,3] Either evolutionary or teaching methods will be used to achieve function. As the scale of this work reduces it will eventually meet up with the molecule based systems described above.

1] Efficient synthesis of thioamide terminated molecular wires. Dixon, S.; Whitby, R. J. Tetrahedron Lett. 2006, 47, 8147-8150.


[3] Comparison of the stability of multiwalled carbon nanotube dispersions in water, Marsh, D. H.; Rance, G. A.; Zaka, M. H.; Whitby, R. J.; Khlobystov, A. N.* Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 2007, 9, 5490-5496.

[4] Assembly, structure and electrical conductance of carbon nanotube-gold nanoparticle 2D heterostructures, Marsh, D. H.; Rance, G. A.; Whitby, R. J.; Giustiniano, F.; Khlobystov, A. N. * J. Mat. Chem. 2008, 18, 2249-2256.

Related research groups

Organic Chemistry: Synthesis, Catalysis and Flow
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