Local Conformational Switching of Supramolecular Networks at the Solid/Liquid Interface
We use the electric field in a scanning tunneling microscope to manipulate the transition between open and close packed 2D supramolecular networks of neutral molecules in nonpolar media. We found that while the magnitude of the applied field is not decisive, it is the sign of the polarization that needs to be maintained to select one particular polymorph. Moreover, the switching is independent of the solvent used and fully reversible. We propose that the orientation of the surface dipole determined by the electric field might favor different conformation-depended charge transfer mechanisms of the adsorbates to the surface, inducing open (closed) structures for negative (positive) potentials. Our results show the use of local fields to select the polymorphic outcome of supramolecular assemblies at the solid/liquid interface. The effect has potential to locally control the capture and release of analytes in host guest systems and the 2D morphology in multicomponent layers.