Using scanning tunneling microscope break-junction experiments and a new first-principles approach to conductance calculations, we report and explain low-bias charge transport behavior of four types of metal-porphyrin-gold molecular junctions. A nonequilibrium Green's function approach based on self-energy corrected density functional theory and optimally tuned range-separated hybrid functionals is developed and used to understand experimental trends quantitatively. Importantly, due to the localized d states of the porphyrin molecules, hybrid functionals are essential for explaining measurements; standard semilocal functionals yield qualitatively incorrect results. Comparing directly with experiments, we show that the conductance can change by nearly a factor of 2 when different metal cations are used, counter to trends expected from gas-phase ionization energies which are relatively unchanged with the metal center. Our work explains the sensitivity of the porphyrin conductance with the metal center via a detailed and quantitative portrait of the interface electronic structure and provides a new framework for understanding transport quantitatively in complex junctions involving molecules with localized d states of relevance to light harvesting and energy conversion.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Mechanical Engineering