Ab-initio models of quantum dot cellular automata molecules.


Molecular quantum-dot cellular automata (QCA) is a charge based, low-power, energy-efficient alternative to transistor-based, general-purpose computation. In molecular QCA, redox centers of a mixed-valence (MV) molecule function as coupled quantum dots, and localized charge states of the molecule encode binary information useful for classical computing. Molecular QCA promises ultra-high device densities, THz-scale switching speeds and room temperature readout. While the fundamental principle of molecular QCA have been tested and established, major challenges must be overcome to successfully implement molecular QCA. This work applies ab-initio techniques in the design and modeling of candidate MV molecules for QCA. Here, we study and characterize ∼ 1-nm-scale MV QCA molecules using first principle calculations. The structural and electronic properties of QCA molecules are calculated utilizing Hartree-Fock, Post-Hartree-Fock and Density functional theory (DFT) methods. Asymmetric, cationic, MV molecules are designed for spectroscopic state readout of QCA devices at room temperature. Tip-enhanced Raman spectroscopy is proposed to detect the state of QCA devices in a circuit if the QCA molecules have slightly dissimilar quantum dots. Clocked zwitterionic three-dot QCA molecules with built-in counterions at the center of the molecules are modeled. The choice and design of the central linkers of these molecules determines number of mobile charges in the molecules for encoding the device states on the three quantum dots. These molecules show different device responses to applied clocking electric field based on different central linkers designed and used, similar to the complementary responses of PMOS and NMOS transistors to gated voltage control. Counterion effects on QCA candidate molecules are also explored in terms of electron transfer parameters. The complete active space self consistent field (CASSCF) method is used to calculate electron transfer (ET) matrix element and inner-sphere reorganization energy of the molecules in the presence of nearby counterions. Results demonstrate that randomly placed externel counterions may degrade device states by causing mobile charge to localize in undesirable ways on the QCA molecule. New zwitterionic molecules with a built-in counterion are proposed to eliminate unpredictable effects of external counterions in QCA circuits. Novel organometallic zwitterionic QCA molecules with ferrocene dots are designed and proposed for synthesis. The chemical stability of these ferrocene based molecules are evaluated by theoretical calculations. The synthesis of these stable zwitterionic molecules by collaborating experimental chemists is in progress and may open a new path to realize molecular QCA computing. A new machine-learning-based DFT functional, DM21 is investigated and benchmarked against traditional methods by comparing the calculated ET matrix elements of several QCA molecules. Preliminary results calculated from DM21 functional did not show significant improvements in accuracy and computational cost. Modification and improvement of the neural network used in the development of the functional, as well as the underlying code is proposed which might open new path to computationally inexpensive QCA calculations.