Endohedral Fullerene Molecular Switches

Supervisors: Dr Renald Schaub (St Andrews) and Prof Eleanor Campbell FRS (Edinburgh)

Applications are invited for a talented PhD candidate to join our team working towards the understanding and development of multi-position molecular switches based on individual endohedral fullerene molecules and building on recent results with Li@C60 [1,2]. The project will involve a combination of experimental work and theoretical calculations to determine the conductance and switching mechanism within the endohedral molecules. The theoretical component of the project will be carried out under the supervision of Dr Amy Khoo at IHPC, A*STAR (https://www.a-star.edu.sg/ihpc) and will involve spending up to 18 months in Singapore. The research is motivated by recent experimental studies in Edinburgh and St Andrews that have demonstrated a multi-way switch using Li@C60 deposited on a Au substrate. The position of the Li inside the fullerene cage can be manipulated by applying a voltage from an STM tip in a novel mechanism that is thought to be connected to the excitation of diffuse Rydberg-like molecular orbitals [1]. As many as 14 different switch positions have been identified within a single molecule [2], far more than for conventional molecular switches. An increased understanding of the mechanism and further studies on the optimisation and control of the switching phenomenon in endohedral fullerenes could lead to the development of a highly promising nanoelectronic component. A suitable candidate will possess a first class or upper-second class undergraduate degree (or equivalent) in chemical physics, chemistry, physics or materials science. A strong interest in theory, quantum mechanics and computation is essential as is a desire to work with advanced experimental techniques involving low temperature STM (at St Andrews) and fs laser photoelectron spectroscopy. Other essential attributes are good presentation and communication skills, both written and oral. [1] M. Stefanou, H. J. Chandler, B. Mignolet, E. Williams, S. A. Nanoh, J. O. F. Thompson, F. Remacle, R. Schaub, E. E. B. Campbell, “Angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning tunnelling spectroscopy studies of the endohedral fullerene Li@C60”, Nanoscale 11 (2019) 2668-2678 [2] H.J. Chandler, M. Stefanou, E.E.B. Campbell, R. Schaub, ”Li@C60 as a multi-state molecular switch”, Nature Comm. 10 (2019) 2283.