Free Energy Barrier for Molecular Motions in Bistable 2Rotaxane Molecular Electronic Devices

H Kim and WA Goddard and SS Jang and WR Dichtel and JR Heath and JF Stoddart, JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY A, 113, 2136-2143 (2009).

DOI: 10.1021/jp809213m

Donor-acceptor binding of the pi-electron-poor cyclophane cyclobis(paraquat-p-phenylene) (CBPQT(4+)) with the pi-electron-rich tetrathiafulvalene (TTF) and 1,5-dioxynaphthalene (DNP) stations provides the basis for electrochemically switchable, bistable 2rotaxanes, which have been incorporated and operated within solid- state devices to form ultradense memory circuits (ChemPhysChem 2002, 3, 519-525; Nature 2007, 445, 414-417) and nanoelectromechanical systems. The rate of CBPQT(4+) shuttling at each oxidation state of the 2rotaxane dictates critical write-and-retention time parameters within the devices, which can be tuned through chemical synthesis. To validate how well computational chemistry methods can estimate these rates for use in designing new devices, we used molecular dynamics simulations to calculate the free energy barrier for the shuttling of the CBPQT(4+) ring between the TTF and the DNP. The approach used here was to calculate the potential of mean force along the switching pathway, from which we calculated free energy barriers. These calculations find a turn-on time after the rotaxane is doubly oxidized of similar to 10(-7) s (suggesting that the much longer experimental turn-on time is determined by the time scale of oxidization). The return barrier from the DNP to the TTF leads to a predicted lifetime of 2.1 s, which is compatible with experiments.

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