Benchmark Study of Alkane Molecular Chains

Frederik H. Van Veen, Luca Ornago, Herre S.J. Van Der Zant*, Maria El Abbassi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Alkanes serve an important role as benchmark system in molecular electronics. However, a large variation in the conductance values is reported in the literature. To better understand these fluctuations, in this study we measure large molecular data sets (up to 100 000 breaking traces) of a series of alkanes with different lengths and anchoring groups using the mechanically controlled break junction (MCBJ) technique. Employing an unsupervised learning algorithm, we investigate both the time evolution and the distance dependence of the measured traces. For all the molecules considered, we have been able to identify the single-molecule conductance value for the fully stretched molecular configuration. For alkanedithiols, the corresponding extracted β decay constant of 1.05 ± 0.08 per CH2group agrees well with literature values. In the case of the stronger thiol bonding, additional peaks in the conductance histograms are found, suggesting the formation of molecular junctions containing a single molecule plus additional gold/molecule unit(s). The results shine light on the dispersion in reported conductance values and show that the evolution of the molecule as a function of stretching and time contains crucial information in determining the molecular junction configuration in MCBJs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8801-8806
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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