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J Phys Chem C Nanomater Interfaces. 2012 Oct 25;116(42):22587-22594. Epub 2012 Oct 4.

Interactions and Self-Assembly of Stable Hydrocarbon Radicals on a Metal Support.

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Institute of Semiconductor and Solid State Physics, Johannes Kepler University Linz , 4040 Linz, Austria.


Stable hydrocarbon radicals are able to withstand ambient conditions. Their combination with a supporting surface is a promising route toward novel functionalities or carbon-based magnetic systems. This will remain elusive until the interplay of radical-radical interactions and interface effects is fundamentally explored. We employ the tip of a low-temperature scanning tunneling microscope as a local probe in combination with density functional theory calculations to investigate with atomic precision the electronic and geometric effects of a weakly interacting metal support on an archetypal hydrocarbon radical model system, i.e., the exceptionally stable spin-1/2 radical α,γ-bisdiphenylene-β-phenylallyl (BDPA). Our study demonstrates the self-assembly of stable and regular one- and two-dimensional radical clusters on the Au(111) surface. Different types of geometric configurations are found to result from the interplay between the highly anisotropic radical-radical interactions and interface effects. We investigate the interaction mechanisms underlying the self-assembly processes and utilize the different configurations as a geometric design parameter to demonstrate energy shifts of up to 0.6 eV of the radicals' frontier molecular orbitals responsible for their electronic, magnetic, and chemical properties.

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