In Search of Flexible Molecular Wires with Near Conformer-Independent Conjugation and Conductance: A Computational Study
Oligomers of 1,4-disila/germa/stannacyclohexa-2,5-dienes as well as all-carbon 1,4-cyclohexadienes connected via E—E single bonds (E = C, Si, Ge, or Sn) were studied through quantum chemical calculations in an effort to identify conformationally flexible molecular wires that act as molecular “electrical cords” having conformer-independent conjugative and conductive properties. Our oligomers display neutral hyperconjugative interactions (σ/π-conjugation) between adjacent σ(E—E) and π(C═C) bond orbitals, and these interactions do not change with conformation. The energies and spatial distributions of the highest occupied molecular orbitals of methyl-, silyl-, and trimethylsilyl (TMS)-substituted 1,4-disilacyclohexa-2,5-diene dimers, and stable conformers of trimers and tetramers, remain rather constant upon Si–Si bond rotation. Yet, steric congestion may be a concern in some of the oligomer types. The calculated conductances for the Si-containing tetramers are similar to that of a σ-conjugated linear all-anti oligosilane (a hexadecasilane) with equally many bonds in the conjugated paths. Moreover, the Me-substituted 1,4-disilacyclohexadiene tetramer has modest conductance fluctuations with Si–Si bond rotations when the electrode–electrode distance is locked (variation by factor 30), while the fluctuations under similar conditions are larger for the analogous TMS-substituted tetramer. When the electrode–electrode distance is changed several oligomers display small conductance variations within certain distance intervals, e.g., the mean conductance of TMS-substituted 1,4-disilacyclohexa-2,5-diene tetramer is almost unchanged over 9 Å of electrode–electrode distances.