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News Release 05-202

Molecular Turn-Ons Could Find Use in Future Computers and Other Electronic Devices

A molecular switch turns on and off.

This sequence of images shows a single molecular switch being flipped on and off.

November 22, 2005

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Taking an essential step in the emerging field of molecular electronics, a research team led by scientists at the Pennsylvania State University, Rice University, and the University of Oregon have developed a way to control single-molecule switches by engineering their design and surrounding environment.

More specifically, the researchers have shown that single-molecule switches can be tailored to respond in predictable and stable ways: some switches will turn on when an electric field is applied, while others will turn off in response to the same electric field.

The discovery could further the development of nano-components as small as molecules, or even atoms, for use in future generations of computers and other electronic devices.

The team's work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation. Details will be published Dec. 21, 2005, in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. For further information see the Penn State news release.


Media Contacts
M. Mitchell Waldrop, NSF, (703) 292-7752, email:
Barbara K. Kennedy, Pennsylvania State University, (814) 863-4682, email:

Principal Investigators
Paul S. Weiss, Pennsylvania State University, (814) 865-3693, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2022 budget of $8.8 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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