Investigation of low-dimensional supramolecular architectures by low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy

In this thesis we report investigations on supramolecular architectures assembled at well-defined metal surfaces. Supramolecular chemistry is dedicated to the study and use of non-covalent interactions to build highly organized molecular arrangements, aiming ultimately at creating systems with tailored properties and useful functions. The adaptation of its powerful principles to fabricate molecular systems at surfaces has already been proven to be very promising; the extended possibilities for the choice of on the one hand molecules with defined size, shape, symmetry and function, and on the other hand substrates with controlled composition, symmetry and patterning allow for a quasi-infinite tuning of the structure and properties of the respective assemblies. The Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) is a tool particularly efficient for the nanoscale elucidation of supramolecular systems at surfaces, simultaneously providing topographic and spectroscopic information at the single-atom level. In this regard, a new Low-Temperature STM (LT-STM) operational at temperatures in the range 5 to 400 K has been constructed. A detailed description of the instrument is provided and the demonstration of its exquisite performance represents a major achievement. In addition to local STM studies, complementary experiments were performed with a synchrotron radiation source using integral techniques, namely X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) and X-ray Magnetic Circular Dichroism (XMCD). We present results obtained with the linear organic linker 1,4-benzenedicarboxylic acid (terephthalic acid - TPA) on the Au(111), Cu(111) and Cu(100) surfaces. The three-dimensional design principles of supramolecular chemistry could be successfully adapted to these low-dimensional systems. TPA molecules adsorbed on Au(111) organize in two-dimensional molecular sheets, wherein the typical one-dimensional hydrogen-bonded chain motif is found. We show that the inhomogeneities induced by the surface reconstruction can be used to examine the response of the supramolecular self-assembly. In particular, variations in the hydrogen bond length of up to 20% are encountered. On Cu(111), a strict commensurability of the supramolecular sheet to the substrate is not possible because of the reduced lattice spacing of the latter, and the creation of defects is analyzed. Due to their peculiar reactivity, the elbow sites of the reconstructed Au(111) surface act as nucleation centers in the epitaxial growth of transition metals (Fe, Co, Ni), leading to the formation of regular arrays of nanoscale metallic islands. We take advantage of this patterning to steer the formation of metallosupramolecular nano-architectures. Co-deposited TPA molecules attack both Fe and Co clusters and metal-carboxylate linkages evolve. Depending on the deposition parameters, nanoporous grids, mesoscopically organized stripes or truly one-dimensional linkages are obtained. Furthermore, the dynamics of the formation of the nanogrids are monitored in situ. Finally, we report investigations of the magnetic and electronic properties of surface-supported coordination architectures by means of XAS and XMCD. We studied Fe-terephthalate systems engineered on a Cu(100) substrate. Both mononuclear Fe(TPA)4 compounds and diiron centers structures in 2D Fe-TPA lattices exhibit a paramagnetic behavior. Moreover, we demonstrate the decisive influence of the ligand rather than the substrate on the electronic ground state of the metal centers, thus illustrating new vistas to effectively tailor the valence state and magnetic moment of transition metal atoms at surfaces.

    Thèse École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne EPFL, n° 3080 (2004)
    Section de physique
    Faculté des sciences de base
    Institut de physique des nanostructures
    Laboratoire de science à l'échelle nanométrique
    Jury: Harald Brune, Michaël Grätzel, Jose Ignacio Pascual, Louis Porte

    Public defense: 2004-10-1


    Record created on 2005-03-16, modified on 2016-08-08

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