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Nanoscale Electronics: The Columbia NSEC 5th Year Anniversary Symposium

Nanoscale Electronics
Reported by
Alan Dove

Posted September 06, 2007


On May 18, 2007, leading experts in nanoscale electronics presented their latest work at a symposium held at the Academy. Mark Ratner of Northwestern University discussed the current state of molecular electronics theory, and some of the cutting-edge experiments that are already testing it. Latha Venkataraman of Columbia University and Mark Hybertsen of Brookhaven National Laboratories presented a new automated strategy that can test thousands of nanoscale connections a day, and a promising new way to improve these circuits.

Paul McEuen of Cornell University provided an overview of his work on several types of nanoscale electrical and mechanical devices, most of which are built with carbon nanotubes and nanoscale graphene sheets. Colin Nuckolls of Columbia University discussed his group's efforts to connect molecular wires to silicon circuits, a major hurdle that nanoelectronics will need to clear for most practical applications.

Web Sites

Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center
Founded in 2001, the NSEC is a program at Columbia University affiliated with the National Science Foundation Center for Electron Transport in Molecular Nanostructures. Its mission is to understand and manipulate the transport of electrons through molecules and molecular assemblies on a nanometer scale. Additional information about Latha Venkataraman and Mark Hybertsen is available here. Also visit its downloads page for additional background information, and their links page to learn more about other institutions affiliated with the NSEC.

McEuen Group
The Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics at Cornell University.

The Nuckolls Laboratory
More information about efforts to design and understand the properties of self-assembling molecular devices.

Ratner Group
Theoretical chemistry at Northwestern University.

Journal Articles

Molecular Junction Transport: Some Vibronic Effects

Aviram A, Ratner MA. 1974. Molecular rectifiers. Chem. Phys. Lett. 29: 277.

Paci I, Szleifer I, Ratner MA. 2007. Chiral separation: mechanism modeling in two-dimensional systems. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129: 3545-3555.

Ratner MA. 2001. Biomolecular processes in the fast lane. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98: 387-389. Full Text

Understanding Conductance in Well-Defined Single Molecule Circuits

Neaton JB, Hybertsen MS, Louie SG. 2006. Renormalization of molecular electronic levels at metal-molecule interfaces. Phys. Rev. Lett. 97: 216405.

Quek SY, Neaton JB, Hybertsen MS, et al. 2007. Negative differential resistance in transport through organic molecules on silicon. Phys. Rev. Lett. 98: 066807.

Quinn JR, Foss FW, Venkataraman L, et al. 2007. Single-molecule junction conductance through diaminoacenes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129: 6714-6715.

Stolyarova E, Rim KT, Ryu S, et al. 2007. High-resolution scanning tunneling microscopy imaging of mesoscopic graphene sheets on an insulating surface. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104: 9209-9212. Full Text

Venkataraman L, Klare JE, Nuckolls C, et al. 2006. Dependence of single-molecule junction conductance on molecular conformation. Nature 442: 904-907.

Venkataraman L, Park YS, Whalley AC, et al. 2007. Electronics and chemistry: varying single- molecule junction conductance using chemical substituents. Nano. Lett. 7: 502-506.

Nanocarbon: From Molecular Transistors to Atomic Drumheads

Bunch JS, van der Zande AM, Verbridge SS, et al. 2007. Electromechanical resonators from graphene sheets. Science 315: 490-493.

Larrimore L, Nad S, Zhou X, et al. Probing electrostatic potentials in solution with carbon nanotube transistors. Nano. Lett. 6: 1329-1333.

Whittaker JD, Minot ED, Tanenbaum DM, et al. 2006. Measurement of the adhesion force between carbon nanotubes and a silicon dioxide substrate. Nano. Lett. 6: 953-957.

Reaction Chemistry Meets Lithography

Guo X, Myers M, Xiao S, et al. 2006. Chemoresponsive monolayer transistors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 103: 11452-11456. Full Text

Guo X, Whalley A, Klare JE, et al. 2007. Single-molecule devices as scaffolding for multicomponent nanostructure assembly. Nano. Lett. 7: 1119-1122.

Xiao S, Tang J, Beetz T, et al. 2006. Transferring self-assembled, nanoscale cables into electrical devices. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 128: 10700-10701.


Mark Ratner, PhD

Northwestern University
e-mail | web site | publications

Widely recognized as a pioneer in molecular electronics, Mark Ratner first proposed using organic molecules as circuit components more than 30 years ago. Trained as a chemist at Harvard University and Northwestern University, he is now a professor of chemistry at Northwestern.

Ratner is a Fellow of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Science, and the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science. He has also received the Feynman Award in Nanotechnology, the Langmuir Award from the American Chemical Society, and many other awards and honors. The author of numerous publications in several fields, Ratner currently focuses on theoretical and experimental models of electron transfer, molecular electronics, and biomolecule binding.

Latha Venkataraman, PhD

Columbia University
e-mail | web site | publications

Latha Venkataraman is a research scientist affiliated with the Columbia University Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center, and recently accepted a position as an assistant professor in Columbia's Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics Department. She completed her PhD at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Mark S. Hybertsen, PhD

Brookhaven National Laboratories
e-mail | web site | publications

Until early 2007, Mark Hybertsen was a senior research scientist in the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics and with the Center for Electron Conduction in Molecular Nanostructures at Columbia University. He recently moved to Brookhaven National Laboratories, but he continues to work closely with his colleagues at Columbia.

Hybertsen holds a PhD in Physics from the University of California, Berkeley, where he studied exchange and correlation in semiconductors and insulators. Hybertsen joined Bell Laboratories as a postdoctoral member of the technical staff in 1986. After finishing his postdoctoral work, he remained a member of the technical staff from 1988 to 1997, conducting a variety of research projects in the theory of the electronic properties of materials From 1997 to 2001, Hybertsen supervised the Device and Materials Physics Group in the Semiconductor Photonics Research Department, first at Bell Laboratories and then as a part of Agere Systems (formerly the microelectronics business of Lucent Technologies). He continued as a consulting member of the technical staff with Agere Systems through 2002.

Paul L. McEuen, PhD

Cornell University
e-mail | web site | publications

Paul McEuen describes his principal research interest as "anything, as long as it's small." Currently, that encompasses a range of molecular-scale electronic devices, including circuit components, nanomechanical systems, and even musical instruments made from both nanotubes and graphene sheets.

McEuen received his bachelor's degree in engineering physics from the University of Oklahoma in 1985, then moved to Yale University for doctoral work in applied physics. After a postdoctoral stint at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he joined the faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2001, he moved to Cornell, where he is now a professor of physics.

The author of numerous research publications, McEuen is also the recipient of multiple professional awards, including the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award, Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Packard Foundation, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Outstanding Performance Award.

Colin Nuckolls, PhD

Columbia University
e-mail | web site | publications

Since finishing his doctoral work at Columbia University in 1998, Colin Nuckolls has won virtually every young investigator award in his field. Among other honors, he has received the Beckman Young Investigator Award, the DuPont Young Investigator Award, the National Science Foundation CAREER award, and been named a James D. Watson Investigator.

Nuckolls received his bachelor's degree in chemistry at the University of Texas in Austin before going to Columbia for his PhD. After postdoctoral work at the Scripps Research Institute, he returned to Columbia, where he is now an assistant professor of organic chemistry. Nuckolls now works on building interfaces between silicon-based circuits and molecular electronic components, and is studying new strategies for synthesizing carbon nanotubes.

Alan Dove

Alan Dove is a science writer and reporter for Nature Medicine, Nature Biotechnology, and Bioscience Technology. He also teaches at the NYU School of Journalism, and blogs at