Scanning tunneling microscopy studies of monolayer templates: Alkylthioethers and alkylethers

Kimberly M. Papadantonakis, Bruce S. Brunschwig, Nathan S. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Scanning tunneling microscopy has been used to determine the molecular ordering in stable, ordered monolayers formed from long-chain normal and substituted alkanes in solution on highly oriented pyrolytic graphite surfaces. Monolayers were initially formed using an overlying solution of either a symmetrical dialkylthioether or a symmetrical dialkylether. Initially pure thioether solutions were then changed to nearly pure solutions of the identical chain-length ether, and vice versa. The direct application of a pure solution of long-chain symmetrical ethers onto graphite produced a lamellate monolayer within which the individual molecular axes were oriented at an angle of ∼65° to the lamellar axes. In contrast, a pure solution of long-chain symmetrical thioethers on graphite produced a monolayer within which the molecular axes were oriented perpendicular to the lamellar axes. When ethers were gradually added to solutions overlying pure thioether monolayers, the ethers substituted into the existing monolayer structure. Thus, the ether molecules could be forced to orient in the perpendicular thioether-like manner through the use of a thioether template monolayer. Continued addition of ethers to the solution ultimately produced a nearly pure ether monolayer that retained the orientation of the thioether monolayer template. However, a monolayer of thioether molecules formed by gradual substitution into an ether monolayer did not retain the 65° orientation typical of dialkylethers, but exhibited the 90° orientation typical of dialkylthioether monolayers. The thioethers and ethers were easily distinguished in images of mixed monolayers, allowing both an analysis of the distribution of the molecules within the mixed monolayers and a comparison of the monolayer compositions with those of the overlying solutions. Substitution of molecules into the template monolayer did not proceed randomly; instead, a molecule within a monolayer was more likely to be replaced by a molecule in the overlying solution if it was located next to a molecule that had already been replaced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10543-10548
Number of pages6
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 7 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry

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