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Nat Commun. 2013;4:1679. doi: 10.1038/ncomms2706.

Stepwise self-assembly of C₆₀ mediated by atomic scale moiré magnifiers.

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  • 1Institute of Automation and Control Processes, Vladivostok 690041, Russia.


Self-assembly of atoms or molecules on a crystal surface is considered one of the most promising methods to create molecular devices. Here we report a stepwise self-assembly of C₆₀ molecules into islands with unusual shapes and preferred sizes on a gold-indium-covered Si(111) surface. Specifically, 19-mer islands prefer a non-compact boomerang shape, whereas hexagonal 37-mer islands exhibit extraordinarily enhanced stability and abundance. The stepwise self-assembly is mediated by the moiré interference between an island with its underlying lattice, which essentially maps out the adsorption-energy landscape of a C₆₀ on different positions of the surface with a lateral magnification factor and dictates the probability for the subsequent attachment of C₆₀ to an island's periphery. Our discovery suggests a new method for exploiting the moiré interference to dynamically assist the self-assembly of particles and provides an unexplored tactic of engineering atomic scale moiré magnifiers to facilitate the growth of monodispersed mesoscopic structures.

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