Probe-based measurement of lateral single-electron transfer between individual molecules
The field of molecular electronics aims at using single molecules as functional building blocks for electronics components, such as switches, rectifiers or transistors. A key challenge is to perform measurements with atomistic control over the alignment of the molecule and its contacting electrodes. Here we use atomic force microscopy to examine charge transfer between weakly coupled pentacene molecules on insulating films with single-electron sensitivity and control over the atomistic details. We show that, in addition to the imaging capability, the probe tip can be used to control the charge state of individual molecules and to detect charge transfers to/from the tip, as well as between individual molecules. Our approach represents a novel route for molecular charge transfer studies with a host of opportunities, especially in combination with single atom/molecule manipulation and nanopatterning techniques.