Indexed on: 17 Mar '11Published on: 17 Mar '11Published in: Physical review letters
The adsorption of molecules to the surface of carbon nanostructures opens a new field of hybrid systems with distinct and controllable properties. We present a microscopic study of the optical absorption in carbon nanotubes functionalized with molecular spiropyran photoswitches. The switching process induces a change in the dipole moment leading to a significant coupling to the charge carriers in the nanotube. As a result, the absorption spectra of functionalized tubes reveal a considerable redshift of transition energies depending on the switching state of the spiropyran molecule. Our results suggest that carbon nanotubes are excellent substrates for the optical readout of spiropyran-based molecular switches. The gained insights can be applied to other noncovalently functionalized one-dimensional nanostructures in an externally induced dipole field.