2022 RTP Single-molecule piezoresistors

Updated: 3 months ago

Status: Closed

Applications open: 12/07/2021
Applications close: 30/08/2021

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About this scholarship

One of the central themes in nanotechnology is Molecular Electronics which is envisioned to replace the micro-sized electronics and miniaturize electronic components down to the size of single molecules. Last few years saw significant advancement in the fundamental understanding of single-molecule circuits. With the aid of scanning probe techniques including the scanning tunnelling break-junction technique and using a concoction of nanotechnology, electronics and surface chemistry this research targets the creation of single-molecule circuitry that mimics conventional solid state electronics such as transistors.
This project targets the creation of single-molecule circuits that switch between a completely insulating and conducting state using a mechanical force mimicking piezoresistors. Single molecule insulators is new concept in the field that was first proposed in 2018 with a seminal Nature paper by Solomon and co-workers (Nature volume 558, pages415–419(2018)). In that prove of concept study, the authors demonstrated a molecule the blocks electric current completely, due to destructive quantum interference, leading to a resistance higher than a vaccum gap equal in size to the molecular circuit. This is exceedingly important for the future design of molecular circuits where molecular scale insulators are needed to prevent short circuits and leakage currents in molecular electronics devices. 
In this project we will use Bullavene shape shifting molecules (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 2018, 57, 2570 –2574) synthesized by the group of Dr. Thomas Fallon (University of Adelaide). The Bullavene molecules are archetypal fluxional molecules with structural isomers predicted to control quantum interference. This can potentially lead to efficient single-molecule insulators and to single-molecule transistors based on alternating quantum interference between a constructive and destructive state leading to a single-molecule ON/OFF state - a step forward towards molecular scale logic gates. The conductance states will be controlled by a mechanical force - a process that also mimics piezoresistors that are typically used in mobile phones (vibration detectors) and as pressure sensors (medical applications). The project is in collaboration with researchers from University of Adelaide (Group of Dr. Thomas Fallon who will lead the synthetic aspect of the project), Shanghai University and James Cook University (the group of Professor Jeff Reimers and A/Prof. Daniel Kosov who will lead the computational aspect of the project). Dr. Dawish’s group at Curtin will lead the single molecule measurements using the scanning tunnelling microscopy break junction (STMBJ) approach. The PhD candidate will learn and develop skills in advanced microscopy and spectroscopy techniques including surface chemistry to assemble and align the molecules, and single-molecule circuitry approaches using the STMBJ technology. 

  • Future Students

  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Science courses

  • Higher Degree by Research

  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa

  • Merit Based

Total value of the annual scholarships (stipend and fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a. Curtin PhD Stipends are valued at $28,597 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years.

Successful applicants will receive a 100% Fee offset.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

We are looking for motivated applicants with experience in surface chemistry or electrochemistry. Experience in any scanning probe microscopy technique will be desirable. 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should email the project lead, expressing your interest (EOI) in this project.

Your EOI email should include your current curriculum vitae, a summary of your research skills and experience and the reason you are interested in this specific project.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2022


To enquire about this project opportunity contact the Project lead (listed below).

Name: Dr Nadim Darwish 

Email: Nadim.Darwish@curtin.edu.au

Contact Number: 9266 9792

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