American Chemical Society
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Surface-Mounted Dipolar Molecular Rotors Driven by External Electric Field, As Revealed by Torque Analyses

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-09-20, 17:38 authored by Yan-Ling Zhao, Wanxing Lin, Kulpavee Jitapunkul, Rundong Zhao, Rui-Qin Zhang, Michel A. Van Hove
Driven by a high-speed rotating electric field (E-field), molecular motors with polar groups may perform a unidirectional, repetitive, and GHz frequency rotation and thus offer potential applications as nanostirrers. To drive the unidirectional rotation of molecular motors, it is crucial to consider factors of internal charge flow, thermal noise, molecular flexibility, and so forth before selecting an appropriate frequency of a rotating E-field. Herein, we studied two surface-mounted dipolar rotors of a “caltrop-like” molecule and a “sandwich” molecule by using quantum–mechanical computations in combination with torque analyses. We find that the rotational trend as indicated by the magnitude and the direction of torque vectors can sensitively change with the lag angle (α) between the dipolar arm and the E-field. The atomic charges timely flow within the molecule as the E-field rotates, so the lag angle α must be kept in particular intervals to maintain the rotor’s unidirectional rotation. The thermal effect can substantially slow down the rotation of the dipolar rotor in the E-field. The flexible dipolar arm shows a more rigid geometry in the E-field with higher rotation speed. Our work would be useful for designing E-driven molecular rotors and for guiding their practical applications in future.