Friday 28 September 2012

The switching of a single atom or molecule between two different configurations on a surface, like A and B in the picture, with a consequent change in electrical properties represents a fundamental limit in the miniaturisation of one of the most basic of circuit components – the electric switch. Such “single molecule switching” can be activated, and also ‘read’, by the tip of the scanning tunnelling microscope (STM). But does reading of the state of the system with the STM tip itself perturb the switch? In a new paper in J. Phys., highlighted in IoP's labtalk, Sumet Sakulsermsuk, Peter Sloan and REP say ‘yes’!