How organic molecules can control electronic devices

Ayelet Vilan, David Cahen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


This article examines a somewhat counter-intuitive approach to molecular-based electronic devices. Control over the electronic energy levels at the surfaces of conventional semiconductors and metals is achieved by assembling on the solid surfaces, poorly organized, partial monolayers (MLs) of molecules instead of the more commonly used ideal ones. Once those surfaces become interfaces, these layers exert electrostatic rather than electrodynamic control over the resulting devices, based on both electrical monopole and dipole effects of the molecules. Thus electronic transport devices, incorporating molecules, can be constructed without current flow through the molecules. This is illustrated for a gallium arsenide (GaAs) sensor as well as for gold -silicon (Au-Si) and Au-GaAs diodes. Incorporating molecules into solid interfaces becomes possible, using a 'soft' electrical contacting procedure, so as not to damage the molecules. Because there are only a few molecular restrictions, this approach opens up possibilities for the use of more complex (including biologically active) molecules as it circumvents requirements for ideal MLs and for molecules that can tolerate actual electron transport through them.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-29
Number of pages8
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2002
Externally publishedYes


Much of our work has been with Weizmann Institute colleagues Abraham Shanzer and his group (organic synthesis and MOCSER work) and Ron Naaman and his group (MOCSER). We thank Leeor Kronik and Uwe Rau for their help with electrical models. Much of the work reported here is based on the efforts of Rami Cohen, Yoram Selzer and Deng Guo Wu, and that of Liraz Chai, Jamal Ghabboun (including theoretical calculations under the guidance of Jan Martin from the WIS), and Adi Salomon. Financial support from the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation, the Israel Science Foundation, the Israel Ministry of Science the Minerva (Munich) and the Fusfeld Foundations and the Feinberg Graduate School, are gratefully acknowledged.

FundersFunder number
Feinberg Graduate School
Fusfeld Foundations
Israel Ministry of Science the Minerva
US-Israel Binational Science Foundation
Israel Science Foundation


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