Charge transport through molecular rods with reduced π-conjugation

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A series of oligophenylene rods of increasing lengths is synthesized to investigate the charge-transport mechanisms. Methyl groups are attached to the phenyl rings to weaken the electronic overlap of the π-subsystems along the molecular backbones. Out-of-plane rotation of the phenyl rings is confirmed in the solid state by means of X-ray analysis and in solution by using UV/Vis spectroscopy. The influence of the reduced π-conjugation on the resonant charge transport is studied at the single-molecule level by using the mechanically controllable break-junction technique. Experiments are performed under ultra-high-vacuum conditions at low temperature (50 K). A linear increase of the conductance gap with increasing number of phenyl rings (from 260 meV for one ring to 580 meV for four rings) is revealed. In addition, the absolute conductance of the first resonant peaks does not depend on the length of the molecular wire. Resonant transport through the first molecular orbital is found to be dominated by charge-carrier injection into the molecule, rather than by the intrinsic resistance of the molecular wire length. © 2008 Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA.