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ACS Nano. 2014 Apr 22;8(4):3294-301. doi: 10.1021/nn404257v. Epub 2014 Mar 11.

Epitaxial growth of pentacene on alkali halide surfaces studied by Kelvin probe force microscopy.

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Physikalisches Institut and DFG-Center for Functional Nanostructures, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology , Wolfgang-Gaede-Straße 1, 76131 Karlsruhe, Germany.


In the field of molecular electronics, thin films of molecules adsorbed on insulating surfaces are used as the functional building blocks of electronic devices. Control of the structural and electronic properties of the thin films is required for reliably operating devices. Here, noncontact atomic force and Kelvin probe force microscopies have been used to investigate the growth and electrostatic landscape of pentacene on KBr(001) and KCl(001) surfaces. We have found that, together with molecular islands of upright standing pentacene, a new phase of tilted molecules appears near step edges on KBr. Local contact potential differences (LCPD) have been studied with both Kelvin experiments and density functional theory calculations. Our images reveal that differently oriented molecules display different LCPD and that their value is independent of the number of molecular layers. These results point to the formation of an interface dipole, which may be explained by a partial charge transfer from the pentacene to the surface. Moreover, the monitoring of the evolution of the pentacene islands shows that they are strongly affected by dewetting: Multilayers build up at the expense of monolayers, and in the Kelvin images, previously unknown line defects appear, which reveal the epitaxial growth of pentacene crystals.


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