EEE598: Molecular Electronics

Fall 2008

Instructor: Dr. NJ Tao (

Where: Engneerng Cntr A A219

When: TuTh 12:00PM - 1:15PM

Office Hours: TTH 1:15 - 2:15 p.m. or by appointment.

Office Location: GWC618


The course is intended for graduate students and undergraduate seniors from Engineering, Chemistry and Physics. Background in basic quantum physics, chemistry, and solid state electronics (e.g., ECE 352, EEE 434, or equivalent courses) is expected.    

Course Objectives

It is widely believed that the emerging field of nanotechnology will lead to the next industrial revolution. A central theme of nanotechnology is to build electronic devices using individual molecules. This course is to introduce the student to the frontiers in molecular electronics. Because most progress in nanoscale science and technology results from research involving various combinations of Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, Biology, and Computer Science, this is an interdisciplinary course and tailored for both engineering and science students. The course will cover fundamental aspects of molecular electronics, including electron transport in molecules, molecular self-assembly and nanofabrication, single molecule detection and manipulation. It will also discuss the most recent advances in the field using selective examples from the research literature, including molecular wires, quantum dots, switches and motors, DNA computing, nanotubes and organic transistors.

Course Syllabus


There is no prescribed textbook for the course. Some reference books and materials are listed below, but more will be provided at the end of each lecture.

"Quantum chemistry", Ira N. Levine, Allyn and Bacon, 1970.

"The Chemical Bond", J.N. Murrell, S.F.A. Kettle and J.M. Tedder,  John Wiley & Sons, 1987.

"Superamolecular Chemistry", J. W. Steed and J.L. Atwood, John Wiley & Sons, 2000.

"Designing the Molecular World", P. Ball, Princeton University Press, 1994.

"Introduction to Solid-State Physics", C. Kittle, John Wiley & Sons, 1986.

"Introduction to Mesoscopic Physics", Y. Imry, Oxford University press, 1997.

"Transport in Nanostructures", D.K. Ferry and S.M. Goodnick, Cambridge University Press, 1997.

"Intermolecular Surface Forces", J. Israelachvili, Academic Press, 1991.


Home Work: 10%

Quiz I, II and III: 60%

Final Exam (Presentation + term paper): 30%

Homework Assignments

Homework assignments will usually be given in class and posted also on the class web page.

Tentative Schedule 

The following schedule may change slightly as we proceed through the semester.

How to find Physical Constants that you need to solve homework programs?

How to CONVERT between units of Physical Constants?


  • Introduction
  • Molecular Electronics States
  • Electron Transport in Molecules
  • Molecular Assembly
  • Molecular Devices
  • Special Topics
Date Topic Reading


8/26, T 1. Introduction

or Click here.

HW #1


8/28, TH 2. Molecular Electronics States
  • The molecular system
  • Born-Oppenheimer approximation
  • LCAO method
  • Diatomic molecules;
Any Quantum Mechanics or Quantum Chemistry textbooks HW#2

2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4

Due 9/2

9/2, T.. S1: Special Topics


9/4, TH.. S2: Special Topics


9/9, T 3. Molecular Electronics States (cont'd)
  • Independent electron model
  • Huckle pi-electron theory


Quantum Chemistry textbooks HW#3

3.1 and 3.2

Due 9/16

9/11, TH 4. Molecular Electronics States (cont'd)
  • Beyond the Hückel p-electron theory

  • Ab initio methods

9/16, T

Quiz  I

9/18, TH 5. Electron transport in Molecular Systems


Further reading:

"Quantum Chemical Probes of Electron-Transfer Kinetics: Nature of Donor-Acceptor interactions", M.D. Newton, Chemical Review, vol 91, 1991.

9/23, T 6. Electron transport in Molecular Systems



9/25, TH 7. Electron transport in Molecular Systems


"Bridge-assisted electron transfer: effective electronic coupling", M.A. Ratner, J. Phys. Chem. , 94, 4877(1990)

9/30, T 8. Electron transport in Molecular Systems


10/2, TH 9. Electron transport in Molecular Systems



3.4-3.6, "Transport in Nanostructures", D.K. Ferry and S.M. Goodnick, Cambridge University Press, 1997.  
10/7, T 10. Electron transport in Molecular Systems

10/9, TH 11. Electron transport in Molecular Systems


10/14, T

Quiz  II

10/16, TH

12. Molecular Devices

  • Molecular  rectifiers and other two terminal devices

10/21, T..
  • Molecular wires

10/23, TH..
  • Molecular switches

10/28, T
  • Molecular sensors
10/30, TH
  • Computing with DNA

11/4, T
  • Molecular self-assembly

11/6, TH

Quiz III

11/11, T

Veteran's Day

11/18, TH



11/16, T..



11/20, TH..


11/25, T


11/27, TH

Thanksgiving Day

12/2, T Presentation
12/4, TH Presentation
12/9, T

Tutorial 1

Tutorial 2