Self-Assembled Two-Dimensional Supramolecular Networks Characterized by Scanning Tunneling Microscopy and Spectroscopy in Air and under Vacuum
B. Naydenov, S. Torsney, A. S. Bonilla, M. El Garah, A. Ciesielski, A. Gualandi, L. Mengozzi, P. G. Cozzi, R. Gutierrez, P. Samorì, G. Cuniberti, and J. J. Boland
Langmuir 34, 7698 (2018)
We combine ambient (air) and ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and spectroscopy (STS) investigations together with density functional theory (DFT) calculations to gain a subnanometer insight into the structure and dynamic of two-dimensional (2D) surface-supported molecular networks. The planar tetraferrocene-porphyrin molecules employed in this study undergo spontaneous self-assembly via the formation of hydrogen bonded networks at the gold substrate-solution interface. To mimic liquid phase ambient deposition conditions, film formation was accomplished in UHV by electro-spraying a solution of the molecule in chloroform onto an Au(111) substrate, thereby providing access to the full spectroscopic capabilities of STM that can be hardly attained under ambient conditions. We show that molecular assembly on Au (111) is identical in films prepared under the two different conditions, and in good agreement with the theoretical predictions. However, we observe the contrast found for a given STM bias condition to be different in ambient and UHV conditions despite the similarity of the structures, and we propose possible origins of the different imaging contrast. This approach could be valuable for the thorough characterization of surface systems that involve large molecules and are prepared mainly in ambient conditions.