The molecular electronics group at IMDEA Nanoscience is offering a PhD studentship in the field of molecular electronics to investigate antiaromaticity at the single molecule level. This is funded through the «atraccion de talento» program (Comunidad de Madrid) and supervised by Dr Edmund Leary.

At IMDEA we study the electrical properties of individual molecules trapped between a pair of metallic electrodes. Many different types of molecule can be studied in this way, from purely organic compounds, to organometallics and even biomolecules. We use scanning tunelling microscopy (STM) combined with breakjunction (BJ) techniques to achieve this and can perform a wide range of probative measurements such as IV spectroscopy, electrochemistry and thermopower to charaterise each molecule. Our aim is to develop a fundamental understanding of charge transport at the nanoscale which can be applied to develop future quantum devices based on single molecules or molecular layers.

In this project we are interested in studying the role of antiaromaticity on electron transport across molecular junctions. Antiaromaticity is of fundamental interest in chemistry. It occurs in certain cyclic planar molecules and imparts an instability onto the molecule, the opposite of aromaticity. This has the effect of reducing the HOMO-LUMO gap, making it a highly appealing charachteristic for molecular electronics, where this should help to achieve high molecular conductance over large distances. Furthermore, antiaromatics can display open-shell character, and this may lead to spintronic applications. Very little is known about how antaromaticity affects transport properties, mainly due to the inherent instability of such compounds which usually precludes their study in BJ experiments. Recently, however, progress has been made in the synthesis and functionalisation of stable antiaromatics which opens the door to this study. Here, we will collaborate with groups at the universities of Freiberg (Germany) and Oxford (UK) who are experts in the synthesis of such compounds designed for BJ studies.

The successful applicant will be tasked with measuring the electrical transport properties of a range of antiaromatic compounds initially based on dibenzopentalene. We are also keen to study porphyrin nanorings which become aromatic/antiaromatic in certain oxidation states. This will involve learning to control an STM (using LabView) under ambient and electrochemical environments as well as performing detailed analysis of the data collected (using Matlab).


Applicants should hold a degree in physics, chemistry or nanoscience. Good writing/spoken skills in English are required.

Applicants should send a complete CV and cover letter to Dr Leary at the following address: (to which informal enquiries can also be made).

The starting date for the project will be preferentially April 2021.