Tuning spin transport properties and molecular magnetoresistance through contact geometry
Journal of Chemical Physics
Molecular spintronics seeks to unite the advantages of using organic molecules as nanoelectronic components, with the benefits of using spin as an additional degree of freedom. For technological applications, an important quantity is the molecular magnetoresistance. In this work, we show that this parameter is very sensitive to the contact geometry. To demonstrate this, we perform ab initio calculations, combining the non-equilibrium Green's function method with density functional theory, on a
... ithienylethene molecule placed between spin-polarized nickel leads of varying geometries. We find that, in general, the magnetoresistance is significantly higher when the contact is made to sharp tips than to flat surfaces. Interestingly, this holds true for both resonant and tunneling conduction regimes, i.e., when the molecule is in its "closed" and "open" conformations, respectively. We find that changing the lead geometry can increase the magnetoresistance by up to a factor of ∼5. We also introduce a simple model that, despite requiring minimal computational time, can recapture our ab initio results for the behavior of magnetoresistance as a function of bias voltage. This model requires as its input only the density of states on the anchoring atoms, at zero bias voltage. We also find that the non-resonant conductance in the open conformation of the molecule is significantly impacted by the lead geometry. As a result, the ratio of the current in the closed and open conformations can also be tuned by varying the geometry of the leads, and increased by ∼400%. © 2014 AIP Publishing LLC. [http://dx.