Friday, January 08, 2010

International Conference on Molecular Electronics

I've been spending this week at the International Conference on Molecular Electronics, and it's been very interesting.  Topics have ranged from manipulating isomerization in single molecules using a scanning tunneling microscope to a talk this morning by Michael Grätzel on the latest about dye-sensitized solar cells.  For $2T, it looks like we could produce 20000 sq. km of ~ 10% efficient cells.  (Of course, that doesn't count installation costs, distribution and storage, and finding an area 7 times the size of Rhode Island to cover.)  Discussions have been lively, and it's been fun for me to see how thinking about certain topics has evolved over the few years that I've been working in this field.  For example, it seems like this community now has a much better picture of the relationship between electron transfer as chemists have studied it for decades, and electronic conduction as physicists and electrical engineers typically consider.  Some critical issues remain unresolved, however, including problems of interpretation of certain measurements and reliable theoretical approaches for computing the level alignment between molecular levels and metals.  Much of the physics and chemistry at work in these systems is still fascinating to me.  

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