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J Chem Phys. 2011 Mar 28;134(12):124702. doi: 10.1063/1.3569132.

Solution-growth kinetics and thermodynamics of nanoporous self-assembled molecular monolayers.

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  • 1Laboratoire de Nanophotonique, Service de Physique et Chimie des Surfaces et Interfaces, IRAMIS, CEA, F-91191 Gif-sur-Yvette Cedex, France.


The temperature and concentration dependences of the self-assembly onto graphite from solution of a series of molecular building blocks able to form nanoporous structures are analyzed experimentally by in situ scanning tunneling microscopy. It is shown that the commonly observed coexistence of dense and nanoporous domains results from kinetic blockades rather than a thermodynamic equilibrium. The ripening can be favored by high densities of domain boundaries, which can be obtained by cooling the substrate before the nucleation and growth. Then ripening at higher-temperature yields large defect-free domains of a single structure. This thermodynamically stable structure can be either the dense or the nanoporous one, depending on the tecton concentration in the supernatant solution. A sharp phase transition from dense to honeycomb structures is observed at a critical concentration. This collective phenomenon is explained by introducing interactions between adsorbed molecules in the thermodynamic description of the whole system.

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