Researchers have created molecules that spontaneously form sturdy networks on a surface, a step that could bring molecular-scale electronic circuits closer to reality.
Leonhard Grill of the Free University of Berlin and his colleagues synthesized flat, square molecules with arms extending from all four sides. The team engineered the molecules to be either reactive or inert at the tip of each arm, and then temporarily capped the reactive tips with bromine atoms.
Deposited onto a gold surface, the molecules slid around, nudged by random thermal jittering. Heating the surface to 270°C for about 15 minutes drove off the bromine caps. As the molecules continued to wander, their reactive ends began to find one another and for