Single-Molecule Electrochemical Transistor Utilizing a Nickel-Pyridyl Spinterface

Richard J. Brooke, Chengjun Jin, Doug S. Szumski, Richard John Nichols, Bing-Wei Mao, Kristian Sommer Thygesen, Walther Schwarzacher

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Using a scanning tunnelling microscope break-junction technique, we produce 4,4′-bipyridine (44BP) single-molecule junctions with Ni and Au contacts. Electrochemical control is used to prevent Ni oxidation and to modulate the conductance of the devices via nonredox gating - the first time this has been shown using non-Au contacts. Remarkably the conductance and gain of the resulting Ni-44BP-Ni electrochemical transistors is significantly higher than analogous Au-based devices. Ab-initio calculations reveal that this behavior arises because charge transport is mediated by spin-polarized Ni d-electrons, which hybridize strongly with molecular orbitals to form a "spinterface". Our results highlight the important role of the contact material for single-molecule devices and show that it can be varied to provide control of charge and spin transport.
Original languageEnglish
JournalNano letters
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)275-280
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Single-molecule
  • Break-junction
  • Electrochemical gating
  • Spintronics
  • Density functional theory
  • Metal-molecule interface


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