Researchers from Penn State, Rice University, and the University of Oregon demonstrated that single-molecule switches can be tailored to respond in predictable and stable ways, depending on the direction of the electric field applied to them The research is the latest achievement in the team’s ongoing studies of a family of stiff, stringy molecules known as as OPEs–oligo phenylene-ethynylenes–which the scientists have tailored in a number of ways to have a variety of physical, chemical, and electronic characteristics. The potential for using these OPE molecules as switches had been limited by their troublesome tendency to turn on and off at random, but Weiss and his colleagues recently discovered a way to reduce this random switching.
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