Accession Number:



Current-Constrained Density-Matrix Theory to Calculate Molecular Conductivity with Increased Accuracy

Descriptive Note:

Journal Article - Open Access

Corporate Author:

The University of Chicago Chicago United States

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



Molecular conductivity is the quantum flow of electrons through a molecule. Since its conception by Aviram and Ratner, molecular conductivity has been realized experimentally in molecules and molecular-scale circuits. Significant challenges, however, remain for its prediction with popular theoretical methods often overpredicting conductance by as much as an order of magnitude. Here we report a current-constrained, electronic structure-based variational principle for molecular conductivity. Unlike existing theories, which set the voltage to compute the current, the current-constrained variational principle determines the voltage from an electronic structure calculation in which the current is added as a constraint. We apply the variational principle to benezenedithiol with gold and nickel leads where it matches experimental values and trends, improving upon previous theory by as much as 12 orders of magnitude. The current constraint produces a conducting steady state that includes all many-body effects treatable by the electronic structure calculation.

Subject Categories:

  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Nuclear Physics and Elementary Particle Physics

Distribution Statement: