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Piezoelectricity of single molecules
Jan/18 paper in JACS demonstrating piezoelectric effect on single molecules »more info

Resolving water clusters with AFM
Jan/17 paper in Nature Comm. about a method allowing high-resolution AFM of weakly coupled clusters »more info

High-resolution SPM imaging
Sep/17 paper in PRL reporting AFM/STM/IETS imaging »more info

Electronegativity of atoms
May/17 paper in Nature Comm. »more info

Transfer of chirality
Feb/17 Paper published in Nature Chemistry including News&Views. »more info

Towards chemical recognition of molecules
Aug/16 Paper published in ACS Nano. »more info

Odehnal award
June/16 O. Stetsovych received Odehnal award »more info

Praemium Academiae
June/16 P. Jelinek received CAS award »more info

Imaging electrostatic field
May/16 paper in Nature Comm. »more info

O. Wichterle prize
May/16 P. Hapala received O. Wichterle prize for outstanding young scientists at the AS CR. »more info

On-surface chemical synthesis
Apr/16 paper in JACS »more info

Structural and Electronic Properties of Nitrogen-Doped Graphene
Mar/16 Paper in Phys. Rev. Lett. »more info

Role of the electrostatic force in AFM images
Mar/16 Paper in Phys. Rev. Lett »more info

Charge transport between two molecules
Sep/15 Paper in Phys. Rev. Lett »more info

The best poster ECOSS-31
Sep/15 Our work has been selected as the best poster in the ECOSS-31 conference. »more info

Paper in ACS Nano
Aug/15 Novel way of B,N-co doping of graphene demonstrated. »more info

paper in PRL and Physics
Aug/15 Our work has been published in Phys. Rev. Lett highlighted as Synopsis in Physics. »more info

Paper in Nature Comm.
Jul/15 High-resolution AFM images reported at room temperature. »more info

Paper in Nano Letters
Jun/15 The current and the force used for controlled atomic switching of silicon tetramer. »more info

O. Wichterle prize
May/15 M. Ondracek received O. Wichterle prize for outstanding young scientists at the AS CR. »more info

Piezoelectricity of single molecules

 Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacky University Olomouc demonstrated for the first time a single molecule piezoelectric effect. The study published in the prestigious Journal of the American Chemical Society represents a breakthrough in understanding the electromechanical behaviour of individual molecules and provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale.


The piezoelectric effect emerges in some materials in which the mechanical and electrical properties are coupled. Either the electric field can be generated if a mechanical stress is applied (direct piezoelectric effect) or, conversely, the mechanical deformation can arise if the electric field is applied (converse piezoelectric effect). These effects have reached numerous practical applications in automotive, smartphone, computer, medical and military industries. In our everyday life, we meet the piezoelectric effect in smartphones, microphones or lighters, it is also widely employed in airbag systems, sonars or scanning microscopes. Possible applications of the piezoelectric effect to nanotechnology are currently under the spotlight and intensively studied. However, the single molecule piezoelectric effect, which is essential for envisioned electromechanical molecular devices, has so far remained elusive.

How does the converse piezoelectric effect work at nanoscale? The screw-like molecule endowed with an inner dipole stretches or squeezes itself depending on the strength and polarity of the outer electric field. It arises by applying a voltage bias between the silver pad and atomically sharp tip of the scanning microscope that resides over the studied molecule. As the change in a molecule height can be monitored with an ultimate accuracy, it is possible to see a molecule deformation induced by the electric field. Such a coupling of the mechanical movement of a molecule and the change in electric field, which is reciprocal by theory, represents an entry into the world of molecules doing mechanical work on one hand and molecular nanogenerators of electric energy on the other hand.

O. Stetsovych et al,
Large converse piezoelectric effect measured on a single molecule on a metallic surface
J. Am. Chem. Soc. 140 (2018) 940 - 946.