Scientific Reports

Fingerprinting Electronic Molecular Complexes in Liquid

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Predicting the electronic framework of an organic molecule under practical conditions is essential if the molecules are to be wired in a realistic circuit. This demands a clear description of the molecular energy levels and dynamics as it adapts to the feedback from its evolving chemical environment and the surface topology. Here, we address this issue by monitoring in real-time the structural stability and intrinsic molecular resonance states of fullerene (C60)-based hybrid molecules in the presence of the solvent. Energetic levels of C60 hybrids are resolved by in situ scanning tunnelling spectroscopy with an energy resolution in the order of 0.1eV at room-temperature. An ultra-thin organic spacer layer serves to limit contact metal-molecule energy overlap. The measured molecular conductance gap spread is statistically benchmarked against first principles electronic structure calculations and used to quantify the diversity in electronic species within a standard population of molecules. These findings provide important progress towards understanding conduction mechanisms at a single-molecular level and in serving as useful guidelines for rational design of robust nanoscale devices based on functional organic molecules.