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ACS Nano. 2019 Jun 25;13(6):6751-6759. doi: 10.1021/acsnano.9b01337. Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Tri-Stable Structural Switching in 2D Molecular Assembly at the Liquid/Solid Interface Triggered by External Electric Field.

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Key Laboratory of Molecular Nanostructure and Nanotechnology and Beijing National Laboratory for Molecular Sciences , Institute of Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) , Beijing 100190 , People's Republic of China.
Faculty of Chemistry , Northeast Normal University , Changchun 130024 , People's Republic of China.
Hubei University , Wuhan 400062 , People's Republic of China.
University of Chinese Academy of Sciences , Beijing 100049 , People's Republic of China.


A tri-stable structural switching between different polymorphisms is presented in the 2D molecular assembly of a 5-(benzyloxy)isophthalic acid derivative (BIC-C12) at the liquid/solid interface. The assembled structure of BIC-C12 is sensitive to the applied voltage between the STM tip and the sample surface. A compact lamellar structure is exclusively observed at positive sample bias, while a porous honeycomb structure or a quadrangular structure is preferred at negative sample bias. Selective switching between the lamellar structure and the honeycomb structure or the quadrangular structure is realized by controlling the polarity and magnitude of the sample bias. The transition between the honeycomb structure and the quadrangular structure is, however, absent in the assembly. This tri-stable structural switching is closely related to the molecular concentration in the liquid phase. This result provides insights into the effect of external electric field on molecular assembly and benefits the design and construction of switchable molecular architectures on surfaces.


electric field; scanning tunneling microscopy; self-assembly; structural transition; switchable nanostructures


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