Hierarchical Intermolecular Interaction Models of N-Heteroaromatic STM Adlayer Structures

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The molecular scale electronic device concept was initiated in 1974 with the semi-quantitative analysis of a hemiquinone molecule. Because of the molecule's electron donor and acceptor properties, and ability to transfer electrons along the -network, it was proposed that the molecule could perform as a circuit rectifier. Many investigations of molecular scale systems have occurred since then, in particular, of organic molecules with large, fused ring systems that spontaneously self-organize after deposition onto a substrate. The directionality and molecular specificity of hydrogen bonding differentiates it from the other weak interactions, driving molecules into specific arrangements and enabling spontaneous rearrangement after addition of only a small amount of enthalpic energy. A direct application of molecular recognition through self-assembly has been the design of patterned self-assembled monolayers (SAMs) for the construction of microelectrodes and supramolecular templates. However, the intermolecular interactions that drive ordered structures to form, including molecular chains and large aggregates, has not been well understood.

To elucidate a quantitative description of the intermolecular forces of  network systems of aromatics that control such features as packing density and porosity, two individual model heteroaromatic systems of 9-acridinecarboxylic acid and isonicotinic acid are investigated using both experimental and computational resources. Supported by scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) topographies, x-ray diffraction (XRD) data and x-ray photoelectron (XPS) spectra, this class of N-heteroaromatics adsorbed on Ag (111) serves as a model system to systematically investigate 2-dimensional intermolecular (2-D) interactions and their impact on forming different structural phases of molecular chain domains. To approach an understanding of the dynamics of N-heteroaromatic film growth, an intermolecular interaction model of 1-D single phase chains and clusters is performed. The model considers the anisotropy of the electrostatic force interactions to determine what charge arrangements (dipole, quadrupole, etc.) better characterize the molecular interactions. Furthermore, the competition between phase chain types is shown to be length dependent and in qualitative agreement with the coverage dependent STM structural phase composition.