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Keywords:

  • Optical switches;
  • molecular electronics;
  • nanotechnology

Abstract

The pursuit to achieve miniaturization has tantalized researchers across the fields of chemistry, physics, biology, materials science and engineering for over half a century because of its many alluring potential applications. As alternatives to traditional “top-down” manufacturing, “bottom-up” approaches, originating from the (supra)molecular level, have enabled researchers to develop switches which can be manipulated on surfaces at nanoscale dimensions with deft precision using simple external triggers. Once on surfaces, these organic switches have been shown to modulate both the physical and chemical surface properties. In this Progress Report, we shed light on recent advances made in our laboratories towards integrated systems using all-organic switches on a variety of substrates. Design concepts are revealed, as well as the overall impact of all-organic switches on the properties of their substrates, while emphasizing the considerable promise and formidable challenges these advanced composite materials pose when it comes to conferring function on them.