Identifying the Conformational Isomers of Single-Molecule Cyclohexane at Room Temperature
Abstract: Isomerism reflects the ubiquitous nature that molecules with the same molecular formula show different structures. The interconversion between conformational isomers of flexible molecules is quite fast owing to the low barriers of around 10 kcal mol−1, leading to average signal contributed by all the possible isomers characterized by ensemble methods. On this account, identifying the conformational isomers of flexible molecules at room temperature has a substantial challenge. Here, we develop a single-molecule approach to identify the conformational isomers of cyclohexane at room temperature through the single-molecule electrical characterization. By noise analysis and feature extraction of the conductance of single-molecule junctions, we quantificationally identified two chair isomers of cyclohexane at room temperature, while such identification is only feasible at low temperatures by ensemble characterization. The strategy to apply the single-molecule approach to identify conformational isomers paves the avenue to investigate the isomerization of flexible molecules beyond the ensemble methods.