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Future Directions of Molecular Electronics
Future Directions of Molecular Electronics
25 - 29 June 2012
In June 2012, we gathered a group of excellent academic and industrial scientists in Leiden to discuss the field of molecular electronics. The goal of our workshop was not only to assess the present status of the field, but rather to critically discuss its future directions. We are happy to report that our meeting was very successful. In an open atmosphere, without taboos, we discussed the status and future of the field, based on the input by the scientists present. The open program, the organizational support of the Lorentz Center and of course the enthusiastic contributions of lecturers, moderators and all other participants strongly contributed to this success. As one of the participants mentioned: “This is truly the ideal setting and atmosphere for such a workshop”.
To achieve our goals, we aimed for (and achieved) a group of participants from diverse backgrounds. The core came from the field of molecular electronics, both from the more basic-research side (‘molecular transport as a quantum phenomenon’) and the industrial side (‘self-assembled monolayers’ and ‘organic electronics’). There were no contributed talks. Instead, we had 14 invited lecturers, given by leaders in the field of molecular electronics, as well as by key scientists in related fields (computing algorithms, molecular boolean logic, bio-inspired systems). All speakers were chosen for their ability to both lecture and contribute to our discussions and were given 60 minutes to talk and 30 minutes for discussion (led by a moderator, see below). This yielded interactive and inspirational talks with few exceptions. Key to the program was also that it included ample time for discussions, both in a plenary manner as in smaller discussion groups. For the latter, four moderators (Michel Calame, Basel; Christian Martin, Nature Materials; Mario Ruben, Karlsruhe; Jan van Ruitenbeek, Leiden) enthusiastically supervised sessions around four themes (or rather propositions).1 On the last day, the moderators reported on their progress and conclusions in front of all participants.
The most important outcome of the workshop was that it discussed novel research lines, which connect science and industry as well as experiment and theory. Key items to emerge were self-assembled monolayers and molecular interfacing. (for industrial applications, possibly in touch screens etc. and for basic research), and the exploration of the quantum nature of molecules even at ambient temperatures (interference effects, spin-spin interactions). Finally, we discussed a rather long-term dream, i.e., to connect to CMOS, either in molecular 2D cross bar structures, in functional molecular devices (e.g. sensors). A vision for the period exceeding ten years was also formulated: to use the third dimension in fabricating devices resulting in3D molecular reconfigurable networks. For a more extended report on the workshop, we refer to a web publication written as an outcome of the workshop.2
We expect that the above-mentioned research lines will strongly grow in the near future. Many participants expressed their wish to get together again, say within 2 years from the workshop week, to discuss both progress and new next steps. For this, several participants offered to take up the organization, either in Germany, Switzerland, or the Netherlands.
1. The following propositions were discussed:
-Within 10 years, there will be a unified theory for describing molecular transport (Van Ruitenbeek).
- Molecular electronics will have a large impact on future organic electronics and its applications (Martin).
-Molecular electronics will only work if one looks beyond the border of conventional electronics (Ruben)
-The prime reason to investigate (and invest in) single molecules is that we can exploit inherent quantum effects at room temperature (Calame).
2. “Future Directions of Molecular Electronics”, Herre S.J. van der Zant, Jan M. van Ruitenbeek, and Sense Jan van der Molen, to be published.
Bernard Doudin (Strasbourg, France)
Sense Jan van der Molen (Leiden, Netherlands)
Mario Ruben (Karlsruhe, Germany)
Stefano Sanvito (Dublin, Ireland)
Herre S.J. van der Zant (Delft, Netherlands)