High performance mechano-optoelectronic molecular switch

Zhenyu Yang, Pierre-André Cazade, Jin-Liang Lin, Zhou Cao, Ningyue Chen, Dongdong Zhang, Lian Duan, Christian A. Nijhuis, Damien Thompson*, Yuan Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Highly-efficient molecular photoswitching occurs ex-situ but not to-date inside electronic devices due to quenching of excited states by background interactions. Here we achieve fully reversible in-situ mechano-optoelectronic switching in self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) of tetraphenylethylene molecules by bending their supporting electrodes to maximize aggregation-induced emission (AIE). We obtain stable, reversible switching across >1600 on/off cycles with large on/off ratio of (3.8 ± 0.1) × 103 and 140 ± 10 ms switching time which is 10-100× faster than other approaches. Multimodal characterization shows mechanically-controlled emission with UV-light enhancing the Coulomb interaction between the electrons and holes resulting in giant enhancement of molecular conductance. The best mechano-optoelectronic switching occurs in the most concave architecture that reduces ambient single-molecule conformational entropy creating artificially-tightened supramolecular assemblies. The performance can be further improved to achieve ultra-high switching ratio on the order of 105 using tetraphenylethylene derivatives with more AIE-active sites. Our results promise new applications from optimized interplay between mechanical force and optics in soft electronics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5639
Number of pages10
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2023


  • Molecular electronics
  • Nanophotonics and plasmonics


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